de·​scribe | \ di-ˈskrīb How to pronounce describe (audio) \
described; describing

Definition of describe

transitive verb

1 : to represent or give an account of in words describe a picture The police asked her to describe the thief. There were so many things he wanted to describe— James Joyce
2 : to represent by a figure, model, or picture : delineate described in her paintings what she saw from her window
3 obsolete : distribute
4 : to trace or traverse the outline of describe a circle
5 archaic : observe, perceive

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Other Words from describe

describable \ di-​ˈskrī-​bə-​bəl How to pronounce describable (audio) \ adjective
describer noun

Examples of describe in a Sentence

The witness wasn't able to describe the robber. He described the house in perfect detail. The article describes how the experiment was done. She described watching dolphins play beside the ship. Please describe what happened next. Can you describe the lost dog to me? She used a stick to describe a circle on the ground.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Like Hastings and Mancini, Krauss describes Erica as one of those people who always seems happy. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Mother of 3 has help in her rematch against cancer," 14 July 2019 That is, with respect to Epstein, the agreement was meant to encompass all instances of the offenses described, even if the investigation had not yet identified all potential conspirators and victims. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Acosta’s Sweetheart Deal Likely to Foreclose Epstein’s SDNY Prosecution," 13 July 2019 Now, a new report in Current Biology describes a Hukawng Valley specimen that has both fascinated and puzzled experts. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "This Prehistoric Bird Had Weirdly Long Toes," 13 July 2019 The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes the effect as extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that can last from a few seconds to two minutes per occurrence. Lilly Nguyen,, "Patients with rare pain condition call for UC Irvine surgeon’s reinstatement to neurological surgery department and training role," 12 July 2019 Just after the match ended, Leitão described the night as the most important moment in club’s years in the MLS. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City fans show commitment with rumble around concourse during Open Cup win," 12 July 2019 Rose describes the show’s inception was a labor of love. Kaelen Jones,, "'It Don't Stop': Jalen Rose's Work Days Are a Whirlwind," 11 July 2019 In the morning, an early walk in the olive grove, coffee outside, with an Ionian breeze George Gissing would describe in three pages, and time to read about the convoluted history of Calabria. Frances Mayes, National Geographic, "Discover Italy’s most delicious secret," 11 July 2019 Christina Anstead has described the beginning of her relationship with her new husband, Ant Anstead, as basically love at first sight. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Christina Anstead's Husband Met Her Best Friend Shannon Houseton in The Funniest Way," 10 July 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for describe

Middle English, from Latin describere, from de- + scribere to write — more at scribe

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Statistics for describe

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for describe

The first known use of describe was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for describe



English Language Learners Definition of describe

: to tell someone the appearance, sound, smell, events, etc., of (something or someone) : to say what something or someone is like
formal : to make a motion or draw a line that shows the shape of (something)


de·​scribe | \ di-ˈskrīb How to pronounce describe (audio) \
described; describing

Kids Definition of describe

1 : to write or tell about Describe what you saw.
2 : to draw the outline of First, describe a circle.

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More from Merriam-Webster on describe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for describe

Spanish Central: Translation of describe

Nglish: Translation of describe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of describe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on describe

What made you want to look up describe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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