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 Black players were described primarily as athletic, or in some cases using words typically used to describe animals. NBC News, "Basketball players are pushing for racial justice, but commentary can be riddled with colorism," 4 Aug. 2020 Hutt sees the meme as a descendant of a shorthand used by Black Americans to describe privileged, troublesome, demanding white women. Richard Chin, Star Tribune, "Minnesotans named Karen say they're OK with the name, despite the unflattering meme," 4 Aug. 2020 It is used to describe conditions as the quarantines are being lifted or re-imposed. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Phrase meant to be comforting sets widower’s grief off anew," 31 July 2020 But the President's tweet was yet another display of democratic backsliding -- a term used in political science to describe the erosion of institutions that sustain democracy. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Stelter: The threat to democracy we all should have seen coming," 30 July 2020 But as the organization points out, the language used to describe gender identity is constantly in flux. Karen Pallarito,, "What Is Genderqueer? Here's How Experts and People Who Identify This Way Explain It," 29 July 2020 In recent years, it’s been used to describe powerful men like Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump. Washington Post, "With new name and album, The Chicks’ voices ring loud again," 10 July 2020 Conventional has never ranked among the adjectives used to describe the Kansas City Chiefs’ reigning Super Bowl MVP and 2018 NFL MVP, who is not yet even 25 years of age. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Patrick Mahomes' $503 million extension shows he's on his own level as a quarterback and businessman," 8 July 2020 Those who knew Davis best describe her as a natural star who was destined to do big things. Jessica Schmidt, The Enquirer, "Ally Davis: Friends raise funds for memorial to NKU student killed in crash," 11 July 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

9 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 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

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