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

The port configuration is, of course, staying the same: four Thunderbolt / USB-C ports and a headphone jack. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Apple’s new MacBook Pros have the latest Intel processors and quieter keyboards," 12 July 2018 Such a configuration is unlikely however since the two bombs are meant for different mission types. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "B-52 Bombers Could Quadruple Their Wing Bomb Loads," 25 June 2018 Scaled’s team crafted a jig from the tools used to build the aircraft parts to assemble those parts in their final configuration, Diachun said. Samantha Masunaga,, "An interest in model airplanes paved the way for Ben Diachun of Scaled Composites," 8 June 2018 Don’t expect that latter configuration to be especially popular. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The Asus Project Precog is a pioneering dual-display laptop, due in 2019," 5 June 2018 Plus, even if the vulnerability is fixed by the maintainers, users' configuration of their email client may not be perfect, potentially leaving them unwittingly exposed. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Security community has its own encryption debate after discovery of new flaw," 15 May 2018 This configuration would be better suited to a sole proprietor with towing and hauling as his or her business, or someone with a heavy hobby, to double as the family car. Andy Mikonis,, "Ford F-350 Super Duty is a refined towing beast," 1 June 2017 But that configuration was scrapped as too bulky for the shoulder-width passages and elbow turns. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave," 13 July 2018 There’s no way NATO can rely on old configurations when dealing with modern conflict. Elisabeth Braw, WSJ, "Europe’s Little Alliances Can Help Bolster NATO," 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

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

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Comments on configuration

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an open space surrounded by woods

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