define

verb
de·​fine | \ di-ˈfīn How to pronounce define (audio) \
defined; defining

Definition of define

transitive verb

1a : to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of whatever defines us as human
b : to discover and set forth the meaning of (something, such as a word) how the dictionary defines "grotesque"
c computing : to create with established rules or parameters define a window define a procedure
2a : to fix or mark the limits of : demarcate rigidly defined property lines
b : to make distinct, clear, or detailed especially in outline the issues aren't too well defined eyes defined by mascara
3 : characterize, distinguish you define yourself by the choices you makeDenison Univ. Bull. the moment that defined the campaign

intransitive verb

: to make a definition (see definition sense 1a)

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Other Words from define

definement \ -​ˈfīn-​mənt How to pronounce definement (audio) \ noun
definer \ -​ˈfī-​nər How to pronounce definer (audio) \ noun

Examples of define in a Sentence

a term that is difficult to define The government study seeks to define urban poverty. Her book aims to define acceptable social behavior. She believes that success should be defined in terms of health and happiness. That fence defines the far edge of the property.
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Recent Examples on the Web

No one who works full-time hours should have a financial situation that is hanging together by a thread or a work life defined by uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Mariana Viera, Teen Vogue, "Domestic Workers Like My Mom Deserve Protection and Security," 26 Mar. 2019 The script is showing its age at a time when millennials—defined by the Pew Research Center as people born between 1981 and 1996—are driving growth at other luxury companies. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "Tod’s Loafers Have Won Over Royals and Hollywood—But Not Many Millennials," 16 Feb. 2019 The execution was delayed about an hour after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys. Michael Graczyk, The Seattle Times, "Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas," 11 Dec. 2018 Fallout is a franchise defined by its lawlessness: in the wasteland, nothing can stop denizens from succumbing to their worst tendencies. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Bethesda permanently bans Fallout 76 players after homophobic in-game assault," 30 Nov. 2018 Vectors like mosquitoes depend on wet weather and live in a range defined by temperature. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "US tries to bury report on climate change’s dire health, economic impacts," 26 Nov. 2018 The duvet, also known as an insert, is generally defined as a flat bag that is filled with either down, wool, feathers, or a synthetic alternative. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Ultimate Guide to the Duvet Cover," 11 Oct. 2018 They should be designed and defined by a third party. Peter Kafka, Recode, "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey talked to NYU’s Jay Rosen for an hour, on the record. Read and listen to the full interview here.," 14 Sep. 2018 My own path to the professional circus wasn’t clearly defined. BostonGlobe.com, "Her circus business embraces the unconventional," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'define.' 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 define

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for define

Middle English diffinen, defynen, borrowed from Anglo-French definer, diffiner, borrowed (with conjugation change) from Medieval Latin dēfīnīre, diffīnīre (dif- by association with dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis-), going back to Latin dēfīnīre "to mark the limits of, determine, give an exact description of," from dē- de- + fīnīre "to mark out the boundaries of, limit" — more at finish entry 1

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Statistics for define

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for define

The first known use of define was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for define

define

verb

English Language Learners Definition of define

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)
: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely
: to show the shape, outline, or edge of (something) very clearly

define

verb
de·​fine | \ di-ˈfīn How to pronounce define (audio) \
defined; defining

Kids Definition of define

1 : to explain the meaning of define a word
2 : to make clear especially in outline Your responsibilities are defined in the handout.

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More from Merriam-Webster on define

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with define

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for define

Spanish Central: Translation of define

Nglish: Translation of define for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of define for Arabic Speakers

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