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

Synonyms for configuration


cast, conformation, fashion, figure, form, geometry, shape

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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

Bombardier and Embraer have traditionally focused mostly on regional jets, but each has introduced new lines of planes that can seat roughly 100 to 150 passengers, depending on the model and configuration. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "Say 'so long' to Bombardier’s CSeries jets; they're now 'Airbus A220s'," 10 July 2018 The cases are available in a range of sizes and cut-out configurations designed for models of tablets made by Apple, Samsung and LG, as well as Amazon e-readers. Judi Dash,, "This gear makes your world go round, flat, darker and spacier," 2 July 2018 Image The penthouses at 432 Park, the 96-story, glass-and-concrete tower between 56th and 57th streets that bills itself as the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, are nearly identical in size and configuration. Vivian Marino, New York Times, "Jessica Lange Among Owners Expanding Into Grander Homes," 29 June 2018 The speeds and weight will vary based on factors such as configuration and armor levels. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "New futuristic Israeli 'dune-buggy' is bristling with weapons, ready for combat," 22 June 2018 The pockets come in every imaginable shape and configuration: rectangular, square, snapped, zippered, small and tubular, big and roomy. Ariella Gintzler, Outside Online, "The Jurek North Roll Is Built By and For Runners," 4 Apr. 2018 Current generation Series 3 Apple Watches are available in most configurations for 14 to 16 percent off SRP, with prices starting below $300. Bob Levitus, Houston Chronicle, "Pay less for your next Apple product," 13 July 2018 In the normal configuration, the collector-distributor narrows to one lane where drivers merge onto I-5. Michelle Baruchman, The Seattle Times, "Revive I-5: Why you see traffic barrels blocking a lane even when there’s no active construction," 9 July 2018 The Laramie trim level also came with 20-inch wheels, helping to boost the overall bigger, bolder profile started by the massive slotted grille, which is available in six configurations. Robert Duffer,, "2019 Ram 1500 is the pickup truck for winning arguments," 2 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

16 Oct 2018

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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 \ \ adverb
configurative \-ˈfig-(y)ə-rət-iv \ adjective

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