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 In the forms for new coronavirus cases, workers can check races and ethnicities that describe the patient, but at times during the pandemic, the information was missing 20% to 40% of the time. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "What Ohio could have learned about the coronavirus – if the state had the data," 10 Apr. 2021 Officials have yet to describe the water's pollution in detail, and parts of the in-depth results from water sampling done by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection remain absent from its website. Paul P. Murphy, CNN, "Wastewater from Piney Point has Tampa Bay on edge for possible red tide, algae bloom," 10 Apr. 2021 In a literary landscape that still privileges the rather grandiose notion of the Great American Novel, to describe a piece of writing as a sketch or a vignette or a slice of life can come across as damning with faint praise. Jim Heynen, Star Tribune, "Review: 'The Youngest Boy,' by Jim Heynen," 9 Apr. 2021 There was a time, not so long ago, when to describe a television show as Dickensian was to pay it the highest possible compliment. Judy Berman, Time, "Joss Whedon's Confusing, Overcrowded The Nevers Indulges in the Laziest Habits of TV's Dickens Obsession," 9 Apr. 2021 As a 2006 study demonstrated, a Jupiter-mass planet in tight orbit around a neutron star would interact with approximately one graviton per decade, which is collisionless enough to fit the bill to describe dark matter. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "Ask Ethan: Could Gravitons Solve The Mystery Of Dark Matter?," 9 Apr. 2021 That’s the word child safety officials keep using to describe the decisions that preceded the death of David Almond, and the near-death of his brother Michael, in Fall River last year., "A 14-year-old boy is dead. We may never fully know why," 8 Apr. 2021 On Wednesday, California launched a public website that, for the first time, combines all 44 databases, and reports some basic statewide statistics that describe homelessness and local efforts to address it. Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, "A new database gives a sharper picture of homelessness across California," 8 Apr. 2021 Politically, the decision to describe everything under the sun as infrastructure is very clever. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Democrats’ Cynical Ploy: Everything Is Infrastructure," 8 Apr. 2021

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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on describe

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