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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Charging documents describe no violence, but that charge can also apply to other felony crimes. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 17 June 2022 Peecyclers in Vermont describe a personal benefit from their work: A sense of gratification thinking about their own body’s nutrients helping to heal, instead of hurt, the earth. New York Times, 17 June 2022 How to describe the Bored Brothers, the distinctly 2022 collaboration between OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and electronic superstar Kygo? Steve Baltin, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Those who have been stationed there describe a place that would resemble the base at Guantánamo Bay—gyms, fast food, television, snorkeling—if Guantánamo were on the moon and the moon were an ocean. Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic, 15 June 2022 Authorities describe Armstrong as White, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing about 125 pounds. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 15 June 2022 But the term entered our lexicon this spring to describe (presumably straight) men who’ve begun wearing form-fitting shorts that are short enough to reveal mid-to-upper thigh meat. Damon Young, Washington Post, 13 June 2022 For anyone who has a few minutes to listen, Thigpen will gladly describe the solid educational foundation provided to her at Golightly Educational Center and Logan Elementary during the late 1970s and 1980s. Scott Talley,, 12 June 2022 Scientists typically describe microplastics as any polymer particle smaller than 5 millimeters in size but larger than one micrometer. Evan Bush, NBC News, 9 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for describe


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on describe

Nglish: Translation of describe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of describe for Arabic Speakers


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