de·​rive | \di-ˈrīv, dē-\
derived; deriving

Definition of derive 

transitive verb

1a : to take, receive, or obtain especially from a specified source is said to derive its name from a Native American word meaning "wild onion"

b chemistry : to obtain (a chemical substance) actually or theoretically from a parent substance Petroleum is derived from coal tar.

2 : infer, deduce what was derived from their observations

3 archaic : bring … inconvenience that will be derived to them from stopping all imports …— Thomas Jefferson

4 : to trace the derivation of We can derive the word "chauffeur" from French.

intransitive verb

: to have or take origin : come as a derivative The novel's appeal derives entirely from the complexity of its characters.

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Other Words from derive

deriver noun

Choose the Right Synonym for derive

spring, arise, rise, originate, derive, flow, issue, emanate, proceed, stem mean to come up or out of something into existence. spring implies rapid or sudden emerging. an idea that springs to mind arise and rise may both convey the fact of coming into existence or notice but rise often stresses gradual growth or ascent. new questions have arisen slowly rose to prominence originate implies a definite source or starting point. the fire originated in the basement derive implies a prior existence in another form. the holiday derives from an ancient Roman feast flow adds to spring a suggestion of abundance or ease of inception. words flowed easily from her pen issue suggests emerging from confinement through an outlet. blood issued from the cut emanate applies to the coming of something immaterial (such as a thought) from a source. reports emanating from the capital proceed stresses place of origin, derivation, parentage, or logical cause. advice that proceeds from the best of intentions stem implies originating by dividing or branching off from something as an outgrowth or subordinate development. industries stemming from space research

Examples of derive in a Sentence

The river derives its name from a Native American tribe. Much of the book's appeal derives from the personality of its central character.

Recent Examples on the Web

According to legend, this browsing area derived its name from the fact that practically every man, woman and child living there was an habitual pipe smoker. John Kelly, Washington Post, "There will be blood: Some District neighborhoods once sported memorable names," 19 June 2018 By 1931, the airlines derived 85 percent of their domestic revenue from airmail, but airmail as a separate class of domestic mail officially ended on May 1, 1977. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "'A Suicide Club': How WWI Pilots Pioneered the Age of Airmail," 9 May 2018 Alas, whatever joy Cohen derived from this fleeting allusion to his greatest hits proved short-lived, as his lawyers, the president's lawyers, and federal prosecutors continue their fight over the documents seized from his offices last week. Jay Willis, GQ, "Michael Cohen Is on a One-Way Train to Screwsville," 16 Apr. 2018 The city's oldest neighborhood derives its name from immigrants from County Cork in Ireland who settled there. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Ford buying Michigan Central Station: What we know and don't know," 21 Mar. 2018 The group derived its name from the 1920 revolution in which Iraqis revolted against a British occupation. Fox News, "Man convicted of making bomb parts used in US troop attacks," 16 Mar. 2018 Many of the problems, Long suggested, derived from a lack of emergency readiness on the island. Kevin Diaz, San Antonio Express-News, "Lesson from Harvey response: Cut the red tape," 15 Mar. 2018 Similarly, the pork shoulder, cooked to meaty medium, derived its juiciness from a jalapeño-kale emulsion. Anna Caplan, star-telegram, "At Fixe, we couldn’t find anything broken," 1 Feb. 2018 His music combines aspects of pop, indie and electric elements, while also deriving inspiration from musical icons Jon Bellion and EDEN. Monica Mercuri, Billboard, "Jeremy Zucker Talks 'all the kids are depressed' Video & Preparing for First Headlining Tour," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'derive.' 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 derive

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for derive

Middle English, from Anglo-French deriver, from Latin derivare, literally, to draw off (water), from de- + rivus stream — more at run

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Statistics for derive

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for derive

The first known use of derive was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for derive



English Language Learners Definition of derive

: to take or get (something) from (something else)

: to have something as a source : to come from something


de·​rive | \di-ˈrīv \
derived; deriving

Kids Definition of derive

1 : to take or get from a source I derive great pleasure from reading.

2 : to come from a certain source Some modern holidays derive from ancient traditions.

3 : to trace the origin or source of We derive the word “cherry” from a French word.


de·​rive | \di-ˈrīv \
derived; deriving

Medical Definition of derive 

transitive verb

: to take, receive, or obtain, especially from a specified source specifically : to obtain (a chemical substance) actually or theoretically from a parent substance

intransitive verb

: to have or take origin

Other Words from derive

derivation \ˌder-​ə-​ˈvā-​shən \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on derive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with derive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for derive

Spanish Central: Translation of derive

Nglish: Translation of derive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derive for Arabic Speakers

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