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

transitive verb

: 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
: to indicate or represent by drawn or painted lines
: to mark the outline of
lights delineating the narrow streets
delineator noun

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 The near-term goal is to develop a process to start negotiating a land demarcation agreement that could delineate where and how the two sides deploy forces along the border in an effort to stabilize the situation. Shane Harris, Washington Post, 7 Jan. 2024 The goal, then, should be to reverse this process by downgrading the PA and upgrading the PLO while more clearly delineating the lines between them. Khaled Elgindy, Foreign Affairs, 18 Dec. 2023 And elevators had to be reprogrammed to delineate space for hotel guests and apartment dwellers. Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, 10 Jan. 2024 To establish accountability and set reasonable expectations, HR leaders should build a comprehensive, multi-year DEI strategy that clearly delineates what goals their teams own and what the rest of the organization owns. Antoine Andrews, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 In recent months, Mr. Yoon has delineated the political divide more bluntly than ever. Choe Sang-Hun Chang W. Lee, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2023 Use area rugs to delineate separate spaces, or add open bookshelves to act as a room dividers—a solution that creates distinct rooms while maintaining the airy feel of an open floor plan. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 23 Dec. 2023 Land isn’t merely property to be delineated, appraised, bought and sold for personal gain. Tyrone Beason, Los Angeles Times, 10 Dec. 2023 The plan delineates that Greg Abel, the current Vice Chairman of Non-Insurance Operations, is poised to assume the role of CEO and succeed Warren Buffett. Matthew Erskine, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'delineate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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"

First Known Use

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of delineate was in 1559

Dictionary Entries Near delineate

Cite this Entry

“Delineate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​lin·​eate di-ˈlin-ē-ˌāt How to pronounce delineate (audio)
delineated; delineating
: to indicate by lines : sketch
: to describe in sharp or vivid detail
delineate the characters in a story
delineator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on delineate

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