I'm writing a formal letter and I have to use the verb "get round something" (BrE) or "get around something" (AmE) to express a way of finding an alternate solution to deal with a problem. Quoting the Cambridge Dictionary,

to find a way of dealing with or avoiding a problem:
Our lawyer found a way of getting around the adoption laws.

  • 2
    'Get around' here, with the connotation (at least) of defeating the intended purpose of the laws, is probably best avoided for a more serious reason than lack of formality. '... helped us to negotiate the intricacies of ...' sounds less dodgy. Jan 12, 2015 at 10:38
  • How about avoid?
    – TylerH
    Jan 12, 2015 at 14:58

11 Answers 11


In OP's context,...

Our lawyer found a way of getting [a]round the adoption laws

...is an informal usage. A common formal alternative is...

Our lawyer found a way to circumvent the adoption laws

...where the relevant Merriam-Webster definition is...

to avoid being stopped by (something, such as a law or rule)
to get around (something) in a clever and sometimes dishonest way

Note that to get round [an obstacle or constraint] doesn't necessarily imply anything about whether the speaker/writer approves of the action or not. But as can be seen from the above definition, using circumvent probably implies the speaker doesn't approve. If you want to convey approval, use a "positive" alternative such as overcome, surmount, defeat, outwit, etc.

  • 4
    Circumvent was what immediately sprung to my mind, too. Jan 12, 2015 at 11:19
  • 2
    @Janus: Which probably just goes to show both of us are naturally inclined to side with "the adoption laws" rather than with people who find ways to get around them! :) Jan 12, 2015 at 11:23
  • 1
    In tax we usually speak of 'tax avoidance' and 'tax evasion' with a clear and understood distinction between the two. Whilst 'avoidance' means using all legal means at one's disposal to avoid paying tax e.g. we all do it everyday (in the UK) when we buy food at a supermarket and cook it at home since there is no VAT applied, as there would be if you ate at a restaurant, or bought it ready-cooked at a take-away. But 'tax evasion' means the illegal non-payment of tax by, for example, making an untrue declaration of one's income.
    – WS2
    Jan 12, 2015 at 11:25
  • 1
    @WS2: True, but I think the specific distinction between those two words, with avoidance = legal, evasion = illegal is really just an arbitrary choice on the part of UK tax authorities (and the "tax consultants" they effectively work hand-in-glove with). It's not obvious to me the basic words evade, avoid embody any such nuances, and I'm not aware that non-UK Anglophones would normally recognise the distinction. Jan 12, 2015 at 12:12
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Evasion is well-enough understood in the lay population (outside of accountants) as to carry a message of criminality in my view. Indeed evasive to me has the same ring about it. My dictionary says tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation, especially by responding only indirectly. When I hear evasive it suggests to me a crime situation involving questioning by the police. Whilst evasion is not a crime in itself, the word, in my view, has the power to suggest culpability.
    – WS2
    Jan 12, 2015 at 12:44


Our lawyer found a way of skirting the adoption laws.

See Usage examples on ODO for the verb skirt:

1.3 Attempt to ignore; avoid dealing with:
there was a subject she was always skirting

Also, ibid.,

The bill was drafted in an attempt to skirt constitutional concerns.


Another word, which emphasizes avoiding an obstacle, would be bypass.


If your example is specific, you could say: "Our lawyer found a loophole in the adoption laws."


Depending on how formal/ poncey the context, the nautical term circumnavigate might be a good fit.


As an appropriate workaround, I've decided to address this question by simply changing the request from a verb to a noun.


Workaround and circumvent were my first thoughts.

Depending on context you might also consider loophole. For your quoted example, loophole works perfectly. "Our lawyer found a loophole to avoid the adoption laws."

: an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it

The above definition is a bit casual where, legally, the word loophole implies that there is still some questionable behavior.

Without violating its literal interpretation, an allowed legal interpretation or practice unintentionally ambiguous due to a textual exception, omission, or technical defect, evades or frustrates the intent of a contract, law, or rule.
Law Dictionary (Black's Law Dictionary)

Using a loophole, though legal, is still morally objectionable, because you "break the spirit of the law". If there is no such thing happening, I would use a different word.

Wikipedia has a dedicated article to the concept of a loophole.


couple of slight variations on some of the other answers above

our lawyer found a way around the adoption laws

our lawyer found a way to skirt around the adoption laws


Again depending on context and formality, you can sidestep:

The lawyer was able to sidestep the argument presented.

You can also steer clear of:

By thinking his way through, he was able to steer clear of any entanglements.


In the example you gave, you could even get creative and use "subjugate".


Evading has negstive connotations in tax affairs but not generally. To say somebody evaded capture/the thugs is no more critical than avoiding same.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.