define

verb
de·​fine | \di-ˈfīn \
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 \ noun
definer \-​ˈfī-​nər \ 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

In the meantime, the issue that will define Sundar Pichai’s legacy as CEO has taken a dark new turn. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018 Last weekend, she was honored at the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles with the inaugural Fashion Icon award, which makes this an opportune time to look back on some of the style turns that have defined her career. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Victoria Beckham on Shopping for the Met Ball at a Sample Sale and the Red Carpet Look She’ll Never Wear Again," 16 Nov. 2018 This is something that really defines the next generation of nonprofits. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why nonprofits should think more like tech companies," 14 Nov. 2018 Tyrone Beason offers his perspective on the social-justice issues that define our times, reporting on the people, events and movements shaping our civic discourse. Tyrone Beason / Columnist, The Seattle Times, "Kazuo Yamane’s WWII story shows the lengths to which some must go to prove their loyalty to America," 11 Nov. 2018 Per the Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is currently working on developing a federal policy that would define gender as something determined by one's genitalia at birth. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump Is Still Selling a LGBTQ Pride Shirt Despite Anti-Transgender Policy," 22 Oct. 2018 More than 20 employees—among them upholsterers, textile specialists, metalsmiths, carpenters, and restorers—uphold the traditions of bespoke fabrication and quality that have defined Florentine artisanship for centuries. Maria Shollenbarger, ELLE Decor, "An Italian Design Firm Transforms Discreet-but-Luxe Kitchens with a Timeless Florentine Aesthetic," 18 Oct. 2018 This time around, Activision and Treyarch opted to go all-in on the multi-player battle craze that defines so many popular games have these days, including Fortnite, PUBG, and Realm Royale. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Pick up Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for 15 percent off before it launches tonight," 11 Oct. 2018 Also potential new regulations that would define how much personal information that internet companies can collect about people using their services. Fox News, "GOP lawmakers have 'positive' meeting with Google CEO Sundar Pichai," 30 Sep. 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

3 Dec 2018

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 \
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

Comments on define

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