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 Two of the men are described as roughly weighing 195 pounds and wearing hoodies, according to Silent Witness. Chelsea Hofmann, azcentral, "Police searching for 3 men accused of robbing Phoenix auto shop," 11 Jan. 2020 As in past statements, Ghosn expressed his derision for the Japanese legal system while describing admiration for Japan and the Japanese people. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Latest from Ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's Press Conference," 8 Jan. 2020 In the wake of the accident, Barry apparently showed a kind and forgiving nature, as Kim described on the family website. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Who is Kim Plath? The Mother of 9 Is the Center of Some Drama on 'Welcome to Plathville'," 6 Jan. 2020 The man is described as being 6 feet tall wearing black hoodie and jeans and armed with a handgun. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police searching for 3 suspects after 45-year-old man is fatally shot," 5 Jan. 2020 This global environmental crisis has now been described as Ecocide. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The Fab Four Show United Support for Victims of the Australian Wildfires on Instagram," 5 Jan. 2020 Experiments recently described in Science revealed the unanticipated extent of this talent and delved into its mechanics. Quanta Magazine, "Unscrambled Eggs: Self-Organization Restores Cells’ Order," 2 Jan. 2020 No one describes firearms, and gunfighting, with the same level of passion and technical accuracy as author Stephen Hunter. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "Q&A with Stephen Hunter, Author of the New Bob Lee Swagger Novel," 2 Jan. 2020 Newport’s book described a litany of bad habits—tuning out the world with music, mindless social-media scrolling—that sounded eerily familiar. The Editors, Outside Online, "How to Chill Out and Relax Already," 1 Jan. 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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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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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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).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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