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verb, de·ter·mine \di-ˈtər-mən, dē-\

Simple Definition of determine

  • : to officially decide (something) especially because of evidence or facts : to establish (something) exactly or with authority

  • : to be the cause of or reason for (something)

  • : to learn or find out (something) by getting information

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of determine


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to fix conclusively or authoritatively <determine national policy> b :  to decide by judicial sentence <determine a plea> c :  to settle or decide by choice of alternatives or possibilities <trying to determine the best time to go> d :  resolve <she determined to do better>

  3. 2 a :  to fix the form, position, or character of beforehand :  ordain <two points determine a straight line> b :  to bring about as a result :  regulate <demand determines the price>

  4. 3 a :  to fix the boundaries of b :  to limit in extent or scope c :  to put or set an end to :  terminate <determine an estate>

  5. 4 :  to find out or come to a decision about by investigation, reasoning, or calculation <determine the answer to the problem> <determine a position at sea>

  6. 5 :  to bring about the determination of <determine the fate of a cell>

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to come to a decision

  9. 2 :  to come to an end or become void

Examples of determine in a sentence

  1. The new policy will be determined by a special committee.

  2. The demand for a product determines its price.

  3. He believes that one's personality is determined mostly by genetics.

  4. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

  5. They are unable to accurately determine the ship's position at this time.

  6. Scholars have determined that the book was written in the late 16th century.

  7. I am trying to determine what happened and when.

  8. They are determining if they should stay.

  9. They determined to leave immediately.

Origin of determine

Middle English, from Anglo-French determiner, from Latin determinare, from de- + terminare to limit, from terminus boundary, limit — more at term

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of determine

decide, determine, settle, rule, resolve mean to come or cause to come to a conclusion. decide implies previous consideration of a matter causing doubt, wavering, debate, or controversy <she decided to sell her house>. determine implies fixing the identity, character, scope, or direction of something <determined the cause of the problem>. settle implies a decision reached by someone with power to end all dispute or uncertainty <the dean's decision settled the campus alcohol policy>. rule implies a determination by judicial or administrative authority <the judge ruled that the evidence was inadmissible>. resolve implies an expressed or clear decision or determination to do or refrain from doing something <he resolved to quit smoking>.

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know. discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter <discovered the source of the river>. ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty <attempts to ascertain the population of the region>. determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely <unable to determine the origin of the word>. unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden <unearth old records>. learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice <I learned her name only today> <learning Greek>.

Rhymes with determine

DETERMINE Defined for Kids


verb de·ter·mine \di-ˈtər-mən\

Definition of determine for Students


  1. 1 :  to come to a decision <They determined to leave immediately.>

  2. 2 :  to learn or find out exactly <Police determined the cause of the accident.>

  3. 3 :  to be the cause of or reason for <Demand determines the price of a product.>

  4. 4 :  to fix exactly and with certainty <Yes, it was settled; his career was determined. — Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer>

Word Root of determine

The Latin word terminus, meaning “boundary” or “limit,” gives us the root termin or term. Words from the Latin terminus have something to do with boundaries or limits. A term is a limited period of time during which something, such as school, occurs or exists. To determine is to set exact boundaries for something. To terminate, or cause to end, is to take to a boundary or limit.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb de·ter·mine \di-ˈtər-mən\

Medical Definition of determine

determined; determining \-ˈtərm-(ə-)niŋ\play

  1. 1a:  to obtain definite information about with regard to quantity, character, magnitude, or location <determine the ionic concentration> <determine the creatinine in blood serum>b:  to discover the taxonomic position or the generic and specific names of

  2. 2:  to bring about the determination of <determine the fate of a cell>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb de·ter·mine

Legal Definition of determine


  1. :  to make a determination regarding

Seen and Heard

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


the range of perception or understanding

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