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.
Recent Examples on the Web Both China and India can take small steps toward the goal of permanently delineating the LAC by restarting the process of border demarcation, which came to a halt in 2002. Praveen Donthi, Foreign Affairs, 4 June 2024 Throughout the plane, those large windows are configured to different lighting modes throughout the flight, meant to delineate between dining, sleeping, and wake-up times. Madison Flager, Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Apr. 2024 With a performance-heavy show in the offing, the Academy of Country Music Awards got three awards out of the way two nights early Tuesday evening, giving out the awards in three separate categories the show has delineated for best new artists to Megan Moroney, Nate Smith and the duo Tigerlily. Chris Willman, Variety, 15 May 2024 By more comprehensively delineating treatment costs and benefits, policymakers can better evaluate how markets and policy can direct resources to maximize the positive potential impact on society. Jason Shafrin, STAT, 6 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for delineate 

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 25 Jun. 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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