de·​lin·​eate | \ di-ˈli-nē-ˌāt How to pronounce delineate (audio) , dē- \
delineated; delineating

Definition of delineate

transitive verb

1 : to describe, portray, or set forth with accuracy or in detail delineate a character in the story delineate the steps to be taken by the government
2a : to indicate or represent by drawn or painted lines
b : to mark the outline of lights delineating the narrow streets

Other Words from delineate

delineator \ di-​ˈli-​nē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce delineate (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for delineate


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Examples of delineate in a Sentence

He plants his skates millimeters outside the blue-tinted 44-square-foot arena that delineates the crease and refuses to budge … — Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 21 May 2007 Screenwriter Christopher Hampton introduces a large gallery of characters, subtly delineating the unspoken class biases that will keep Robbie, for all his confidence, charm and Cambridge education, an outsider. — David Ansen, Newsweek, 10 Dec. 2007 So Madrid finally ordered Onís to cut the best deal he could. The resulting Transcontinental (or Adams-Onís) Treaty of 1819 ceded Florida to the United States and delineated the boundary between American and Spanish territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean … — Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State, 1997 Privacy plays a unique role in American law. Although considered a core value by most citizens, it is not explicitly delineated as a protected right by the U.S. Constitution. — Edward A. Cavazos et al., Cyberspace and the Law, 1994 The report clearly delineates the steps that must be taken. The characters in the story were carefully delineated. See More
Recent Examples on the Web First, clearly delineate the problem that your bank’s community relations program is meant to solve, like homelessness, poor education, malnutrition, etc. Jeff Bradford, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Here’s a good way to delineate them: The NEH (again, with some exceptions) concerns itself with books and research, the NEA, by and large, with ephemeral experiences and audiences. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 26 Mar. 2022 To address this climate pollution, GSA will require that all potential contractors delineate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their building materials, providing environmental product declarations. Arianna Skibell, Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2022 The patch of Kendall County land is included in each of SAWS’ water and wastewater certificates of convenience and necessity, or CCNs, which delineate the areas where SAWS is required to provide such services when requested. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Mar. 2022 These guidelines no longer delineate between regular public spaces and K-12 school buildings and follow a three-level risk analysis to determine the need for masks and other COVID-19 prevention measures by county. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, 7 Mar. 2022 Only a health care provider can delineate between a viral and bacterial sinus infection. Melissa Fiorenza,, 8 Feb. 2022 The first column indicates the total of the second and third columns which delineate between the amount that went straight to districts and the amount the state gave districts to target learning loss directly. al, 28 Jan. 2022 The carved channels delineate in negative space the pendulous breasts, somnolent grimace and agitated body. Los Angeles Times, 3 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'delineate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of delineate

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for delineate

borrowed from Latin dēlīneātus, past participle of dēlīneāre "to trace the outline of," from dē- de- + līneāre "to make straight, mark with lines," derivative of līnea "string, cord, line entry 1"

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Time Traveler for delineate

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The first known use of delineate was in 1559

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Delineate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on delineate

Nglish: Translation of delineate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delineate for Arabic Speakers


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