con·​fig·​u·​ra·​tion | \kən-ˌfi-gyə-ˈrā-shən, ˌkän-, -gə-ˈrā-\

Definition of configuration 

1a : relative arrangement of parts or elements: such as

(1) : shape

(2) : contour of land configuration of the mountains

(3) : functional arrangement a small business computer system in its simplest configuration

b : something (such as a figure, contour, pattern, or apparatus) that results from a particular arrangement of parts or components

c : the stable structural makeup of a chemical compound especially with reference to the space relations of the constituent atoms

2 : gestalt personality configuration

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Other Words from configuration

configurational \kən-​ˌfi-​gyə-​ˈrā-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl, ˌkän-​, -​gə-​ˈrā-​ \ adjective
configurationally adverb
configurative \kən-​ˈfi-​gyə-​rə-​tiv, -​ˈfi-​gə-​, ˌkän-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

The term is very common in computer science and mathematics, and in scientific and technological fields in general. Thus, for example, two scientists won a 1962 Nobel Prize for their description of the configuration of the DNA molecule. Since then, researchers have studied what different configurations within the DNA strands mean and what they control, and genetic engineers have tried to configure or reconfigure DNA in new ways to prevent or treat diseases.

Examples of configuration in a Sentence

We'll have to change the configuration of the system to accommodate the new server. the basic configuration of the building is that of a geodesic dome

Recent Examples on the Web

Further Reading Dramatic footage of Soyuz accident shows rocket booster collision A sensor rod, bent out of its normal configuration by a little more than 6 degrees, caused the booster separation issue. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Two months after mishap, Russian Soyuz rockets back into space with crew," 3 Dec. 2018 As promised, Apple has updated its MacBook Pro configurations with new options for AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics cards, specifically the all-new Pro Vega 16 and Pro Vega 20 options. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple updates MacBook Pro with AMD Vega GPU options," 14 Nov. 2018 Those compartments can be assembled in different configurations—like Legos, but with interlocking radar, jamming emitters, and spy sensors. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Rise of Disposable Drones," 30 May 2017 Even now, with much of the work complete, the arena will seat only about 16,500 for basketball, a drop of almost 3,000 seats from the original configuration when the arena opened in 1999. Paul Newberry, The Seattle Times, "Hawks offering plenty of other options in new-look arena," 23 Oct. 2018 Gavin Rea via Designboom All of the configurations have large square windows, a light wood facade, and some form of deck. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Prefab home concept appears to float above the landscape," 15 Oct. 2018 There are even some sites with a completely broken configuration. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Today’s the day that Chrome brands plain old HTTP “not secure”," 24 July 2018 The seating configuration will change, bringing the total number of seats down from 2,849 to 2,744, a loss of 105, with an unknown number to be lost next summer. Peter Dobrin,, "Academy of Music is replacing its lumpy old seats - and, no, you're not getting cup holders," 12 July 2018 Similarly, codes require 110 parking spaces for the 4550 S. 108th St., McDonald’s that currently has only 45, but would have only 38 with the new parking configuration needed to provide handicap parking spaces, the report said. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "McDonald's proposes remodeling 2 restaurants on Highway 100 in Greenfield," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'configuration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of configuration

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for configuration

earlier, "relative position of the planets," borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, "form, relative position of the planets," borrowed from Late Latin configūrātiōn-, configūrātiō "comparison, shaping," from Latin configūrāre "to shape, mold" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at configure

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Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for configuration

The first known use of configuration was in 1559

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English Language Learners Definition of configuration

: the way the parts of something are arranged

computers : the way a computer system or program is prepared for a particular use


con·​fig·​u·​ra·​tion | \kən-ˌfig-(y)ə-ˈrā-shən, ˌkän- \

Medical Definition of configuration 

1a : relative arrangement of parts or elements

b : the stable structural makeup of a chemical compound especially with reference to the space relations of the constituent atoms

2 : gestalt personality configuration

Other Words from configuration

configurational \-​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl \ adjective
configurationally \-​ē \ adverb
configurative \-​ˈfig-​(y)ə-​rət-​iv \ adjective

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having a pattern of small flowers

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