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 describe (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 Federal court records, released Wednesday, do not describe exactly how Rivere and Shoemaker allegedly broke the law, only that the offenses occurred in Louisiana on July 13, 2017. Tristan Baurick,, "Couple charged with illegally selling Louisiana box turtles," 8 Jan. 2021 Mattingly steps into the doorway and puts himself in what police describe as the fatal funnel, a position vulnerable to gunfire and hard to move from. New York Times, "Louisville Officer Who Shot Breonna Taylor Will Be Fired," 29 Dec. 2020 Once worth nearly a billion dollars, opera-loving philanthropist Alberto Vilar is seeking financial relief from what his lawyers describe as a destitute existence following his 2018 release from prison. Larry Neumeister, ajc, "Lawyers seek relief for 'broken' convicted philanthropist," 25 Dec. 2020 Still, the emergency authorization of a vaccine represents a new phase of COVID-19, what some experts describe as the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Los Angeles Times, "Here’s how California plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in coming weeks," 10 Dec. 2020 As a Black woman, Kisha has navigated what many describe as Working While Black—an emotional tax of grind culture, isolation, code-switching, tokenism and the fear of failure and its impact on your community’s advancement. Noel Cody, Essence, "Beyond Diversity: The Woman Spearheading Gap Inc.'s Next Phase of Inclusivity," 2 Dec. 2020 In the predawn hours, Bishop Epiphanius, 64, was found dead outside his monastic cell, his skull fractured with what prosecutors would later describe as a blunt object, most likely a metal pipe. Washington Post, "Murder mystery inside Egyptian monastery stirs concerns for monk on death row," 27 Nov. 2020 Pastor, a Republican elected in 2017 to a four-year term that commenced in 2018, was arrested Nov. 10 for leading what authorities describe as a brazen bribery scheme involving payoffs for help with city development projects. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, "City punts on Councilman Jeff Pastor removal case; he's still suspended though," 25 Nov. 2020 And Buddhists, whose religion emerged in the late 6th century B.C. in what some describe as a reaction to Hinduism, celebrate it as the day the Hindu Emperor Ashoka, who ruled in the third century B.C., converted to Buddhism. Amy Mckeever, History & Culture, "Diwali is India’s most important holiday—and a celebration of good over evil," 12 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for describe

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for describe

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for describe


How to pronounce describe (audio)

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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