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

Example Sentences

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 Kitchen Because the apartment’s front door opens right into the kitchen, the designers installed a French oak partition and parquet flooring to delineate part of the space as an entryway. Mikki Brammer, ELLE Decor, 6 Sep. 2022 But a huge gap in diagnosing long Covid is that no biomarker has been identified to delineate an underlying cause, and no single test can definitively diagnose the condition. Ryan Prior And Kimberly Knackstedt, STAT, 22 Aug. 2022 Is the point of Plant & Krauss to delineate those historical through lines? Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2022 At the same time, the spaces include gates and doors, allowing Melendy to clearly delineate his playing areas. Terry Byrne,, 25 Oct. 2022 In Blonde, the costumes help to delineate the glamorous and glitzy moments of Marilyn’s public persona from the vulnerable and intimate moments of Norma Jeane, or who Monroe was in her downtime. Time, 27 Sep. 2022 To delineate what actually counts as indie sleaze — at least, according to her, Olivia made an eclectic playlist. Tatiana Tenreyro, SPIN, 13 Oct. 2022 The New York City Council is still hammering out the details of a bill that would delineate the boundaries of Times Square, which sprawls the Midtown region in the borough of Manhattan. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 31 Aug. 2022 The window will delineate separate spaces while still letting light flow through. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, 27 July 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.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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