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

Every region of the world produces geniuses of all colors and genders who define their own vernacular, changing our world one brick at a time. Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "The 2019 ELLE Decor Architecture A-List," 5 Feb. 2019 The clue lies in how Insider Build 18323, released Thursday evening, is defined as the release branch of Windows 10—a near-final, bug-bashing development stage. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10's April 2019 Update should be as straightforward as its name," 25 Jan. 2019 This question is complicated because it is individually defined and depends on the therapy modality. SELF, "How Can You Tell if Therapy Is Actually Working?," 11 Dec. 2018 Heading into 2020, the basic issue is that Democrats don’t have a strong, Hillary Clinton-esque frontrunner whose presence defines and structures the race. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The Beto O’Rourke 2020 buzz, explained," 20 Nov. 2018 Following Hill, the Detroit city mayor, Mike Duggan, spoke on behalf of Franklin and touched upon how the singer's iconic legacy defined and the Michigan town. Fox News, "Aretha Franklin's funeral attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ariana Grande and Faith Hill perform," 31 Aug. 2018 Essentially, soft power is the ability to attract and influence via means other than hard power, which is typically defined as military might and economic incentives or sanctions. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Under President Trump, the U.S.'s 'Soft Power' Is Waning," 13 July 2018 The mayor said in the letter that both versions failed to properly define and regulate lobbying, as well as create a proper enforcement mechanism. Milton J. Valencia, BostonGlobe.com, "Walsh vetoes city lobbying rules, calling proposal ‘inadequate’," 12 July 2018 It’s defined as the weight of your pack and equipment, not including any food or water. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Here's What It Takes to Hike the John Muir Trail," 11 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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Learn More about define

Statistics for define

Last Updated

12 Feb 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 \
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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