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

One reason for this vulnerability: The basic configuration of American elections dates to 1890 — a chaotic ritual designed, literally, for another century. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018 Sliding panels swiftly alter the configuration of the set, and the gauzy, indistinct projections are as slippery as the music. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘Marnie’ Review: A Thief’s Secrets," 22 Oct. 2018 Rea designed three configurations of the Tenka—the M1, a 480-square-foot home with a small module that sits atop a lager module, leaving room for a square deck. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Prefab home concept appears to float above the landscape," 15 Oct. 2018 But tiltrotors are notoriously wide aircraft because of the side-by-side configuration of the rotors, making them too big to fly down foreign boulevards. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army Wants a New Armed Scout Helicopter," 6 Sep. 2018 This configuration of Corsair’s ultra-tiny desktop PC packs a Core i7-8700K, a GTX 1080, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 2TB hard drive, all in a package that measures just 15 inches high, 7 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "The best Intel Gamer Days deals," 6 Sep. 2018 The configuration of beams mimics Purdue HQ’s modernist architectural design. Susan Dunne,, "Gallery Owner Says Opioid Exhibit, Protest At Purdue Just The Beginning Of 'Spoon Movement'," 26 June 2018 Scientists believe that certain configurations of electrons and holes (absences of electrons) can behave like Majorana particles. Neil Savage, Scientific American, "What Are the Limits of Manipulating Nature?," 8 May 2018 Decatur’s school board recently approved the new configuration of its elementary school boundaries beginning with the 2019-20 school year. Bill Banks, ajc, "Decatur board approves new boundaries for elementary schools," 26 Apr. 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

13 Nov 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 \ -​ē \ adverb
configurative \ -​ˈfig-​(y)ə-​rət-​iv \ adjective

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Comments on configuration

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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