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verb, de·rive \di-ˈrīv, dē-\

Simple Definition of derive

  • : to take or get (something) from (something else)

  • : to have something as a source : to come from something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of derive


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to take, receive, or obtain especially from a specified source b :  to obtain (a chemical substance) actually or theoretically from a parent substance

  3. 2 :  infer, deduce

  4. 3 archaic :  bring

  5. 4 :  to trace the derivation of

  6. intransitive verb
  7. :  to have or take origin :  come as a derivative

deriver noun

Examples of derive in a sentence

  1. The river derives its name from a Native American tribe.

  2. Much of the book's appeal derives from the personality of its central character.

Origin of derive

Middle English, from Anglo-French deriver, from Latin derivare, literally, to draw off (water), from de- + rivus stream — more at run

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of derive

spring, arise, rise, originate, derive, flow, issue, emanate, proceed, stem mean to come up or out of something into existence. spring implies rapid or sudden emerging <an idea that springs to mind>. arise and rise may both convey the fact of coming into existence or notice but rise often stresses gradual growth or ascent <new questions have arisen> <slowly rose to prominence>. originate implies a definite source or starting point <the fire originated in the basement>. derive implies a prior existence in another form <the holiday derives from an ancient Roman feast>. flow adds to spring a suggestion of abundance or ease of inception <words flowed easily from her pen>. issue suggests emerging from confinement through an outlet <blood issued from the cut>. emanate applies to the coming of something immaterial (as a thought) from a source <reports emanating from the capital>. proceed stresses place of origin, derivation, parentage, or logical cause <advice that proceeds from the best of intentions>. stem implies originating by dividing or branching off from something as an outgrowth or subordinate development <industries stemming from space research>.

DERIVE Defined for Kids


verb de·rive \di-ˈrīv\

Definition of derive for Students


  1. 1 :  to take or get from a source <I derive great pleasure from reading.>

  2. 2 :  to come from a certain source <Some modern holidays derive from ancient traditions.>

  3. 3 :  to trace the origin or source of <We derive the word “cherry” from a French word.>

Medical Dictionary


verb de·rive \di-ˈrīv\

Medical Definition of derive

derived; deriving

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to take, receive, or obtain, especially from a specified source; specifically :  to obtain (a chemical substance) actually or theoretically from a parent substance

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to have or take origin

derivation \ˌder-ə-ˈvā-shən\play noun

Seen and Heard

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


to dishevel or rumple

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