Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb de·fine \di-ˈfīn\

Simple Definition of define

  • : to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)

  • : to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely

  • : to show the shape, outline, or edge of (something) very clearly

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of define



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of <whatever defines us as human> b :  to discover and set forth the meaning of (as a word) c :  to create on a computer <define a window> <define a procedure>

  3. 2 a :  to fix or mark the limits of :  demarcate <rigidly defined property lines> b :  to make distinct, clear, or detailed especially in outline <the issues aren't too well defined>

  4. 3 :  characterize, distinguish <you define yourself by the choices you make — Denison University Bulletin>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to make a definition


play \-ˈfīn-mənt\ noun


play \-ˈfī-nər\ noun

Examples of define in a sentence

  1. a term that is difficult to define

  2. The government study seeks to define urban poverty.

  3. Her book aims to define acceptable social behavior.

  4. She believes that success should be defined in terms of health and happiness.

  5. That fence defines the far edge of the property.

Origin and Etymology of define

Middle English, from Latin definire, from de- + finire to limit, end, from finis boundary, end

First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with define

A-line, affine, airline, align, alkyne, alpine, assign, at sign, balkline, baseline, beeline, benign, bloodline, blue line, blush wine, bovine, bowline, branchline, breadline, bright-line, buntline, bustline, byline, call sign, canine, caprine, carbine, carmine, cervine, chow line, clothesline, cloud nine, coastline, combine, compline, condign, confine, consign, corvine, cosign, cutline, dateline, deadline, decline, design, divine, dragline, driveline, earthshine, Einstein, eiswein, end line, enshrine, entwine, equine, ethyne, fall line, fault line, feline, ferine, first-line, flatline, flight line, foul line, fräulein, frontline, front line, goal line, gold mine, grapevine, guideline, hairline, hard-line, hard pine, headline, hemline, high sign, hipline, Holbein, hotline, ice wine, incline, indign, in fine, in-line, Irvine, jawline, jug wine, landline, land mine, lang syne, lifeline, load line, longline, lupine, mainline, main line, malign, midline, moline, moonshine, neckline, off-line, old-line, online, opine, outline, outshine, ovine, Pauline, peace sign, Petrine, pipeline, piscine, pitch pine, plotline, plumb line, plus sign, pontine, porcine, potline, pound sign, propine, punch line, rapine, recline, redline, red pine, refine, reline, repine, resign, Rhine wine, ridgeline, roofline, Sabine, saline, Scotch pine, scrub pine, setline, shoreline, short line, sideline, sight line, skyline, snow line, soft-line, spring line, straight-line, strandline, straw wine, streamline, strip mine, strychnine, subline, sunshine, supine, syncline, taurine, tie-line, times sign, topline, touchline, towline, tramline, trapline, tree line, trephine, trotline, truckline, trunk line, tumpline, turbine, untwine, ursine, vespine, V sign, vulpine, waistline, white line, white pine, white wine, woodbine, yard line, zebrine, Z line

DEFINE Defined for Kids


verb de·fine \di-ˈfīn\

Definition of define for Students



  1. 1 :  to explain the meaning of <define a word>

  2. 2 :  to make clear especially in outline <Your responsibilities are defined in the handout.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up define? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to introduce or suggest indirectly

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.