A new apartment building is going up on our block, and the sidewalks are closed on that side of the block. "Oh well," I told my wife, "we'll just have to...wait, I swear there's a phrase for traversing the other three sides of the square instead of just taking the straight-line route, but I'm not coming up with it..."

Am I crazy, or is there a phrase for taking a route like this around a square?

A  ->
|      | |
|      | v
B  <-
  • 2
    "Walk the perimeter"? Use the "manhattan distance" or "taxicab route" (where diagonals are prohibited)? The rectilinear distance? The opposite, of course, is "as the crow flies", the existence of which idiom suggests this (Manhattan distance) is the nominal or normal case, and may not have been given a specific name.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 25, 2016 at 17:28
  • You looking for circuitous or a synonym?
    – stevesliva
    Jul 25, 2016 at 17:30
  • "To go the long way around" (AmE) or "To go the long way round" (BrE). Jul 25, 2016 at 17:30
  • I swear there was an actual phrase for this, from geometry or sewing or something, not just a generic word for going the long way. "Sewing a pillowcase"? :)
    – Amanda S
    Jul 25, 2016 at 17:31
  • 1
    "Go around the block" is how I would say it for the specific case of a street grid.
    – zwol
    Jul 26, 2016 at 1:03

4 Answers 4


This may not be a direct answer to the question, but it will get there, eventually

Scenic routeDictionary.com

noun, informal the long route or way to a destination; a road or path designed to take one past a pleasant view or nice scenery and usually less direct
"We took the scenic route home after having trouble reading the map."

The long route or way, often due to one's losing one's way
"missed the Garden State Parkway and ended up taking the scenic route."


"Go the long way around" (AmE) or "Go the long way round" (BrE).

  • 6
    "The long way round" is perfectly fine in AmE as well, at least in my dialect. Jul 25, 2016 at 18:33
  • 1
    In my dialect, it is take the long way (the (a)round is optional), but go is perfectly understandable.
    – cobaltduck
    Jul 25, 2016 at 20:49
  • @PeterShor The "square candies that look round" joke in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory made no sense to me until I was comfortably in adulthood, so I would guess it varies. I think one funny thing going on in "American English" is that we are now watching many more shows filmed in "British English" and, at least in my area, I hear a lot more British-isms than ever before, so the lines are blurring. I definitely use plural pronouns to refer to my favorite football.. errr, I mean soccer(?) team - probably from watching so much BrEng commentary. Jul 26, 2016 at 2:30


noun 1.1. An alternative route for use by traffic when the usual road is temporarily closed.
"A closed road and a detour on the way, but I manage to find my way around that."

verb 1. Take a long or roundabout route
"he detoured around the walls."


Probably it's just "go around" or "go round":

go around or go round:


  1. To form or follow an indirect path that avoids something: Go around the fence if the gate is locked. Don't try to cross the marsh—go around.

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