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 The coordinated response has been ... there are a number of adjectives to describe it. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Trump hits Fauci's credibility after he complained campaign took him 'out of context'," 13 Oct. 2020 In 1972, all hell broke loose with the release of Lennon and Ono’s shocking pro-feminist anthem, the title of which included the most forbidden slur for Black Americans to describe the plight of women. Joe Raiola, Star Tribune, "Re-examining a flawed icon, John Lennon," 12 Oct. 2020 All seemed to be struggling for words to describe his contributions. Peter Hartlaub,, "‘With a love that is filial’: It’s 2020 and the battle for S.F.’s soul has just begun," 12 Oct. 2020 Through five different times over the course of two years, the youth were asked to describe themselves in relation to situations such as kindness, trustworthiness, hopeful future expectations and helpfulness. Dallas News, "Skills to last a lifetime: how the Boy Scouts of America shape youth into future leaders with courage and character," 12 Oct. 2020 As for the mood in Montevallo since then, many weren’t sure how best to describe it. Elaina Plott, New York Times, "In a Small Alabama Town, Suddenly All Politics Is National," 11 Oct. 2020 No pundits used expletives to describe it after the debate was over. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "'Not an emotionally abusive session': How Fox and CNN reacted to the Harris-Pence debate," 7 Oct. 2020 Will political rhetoric ever recover from Donald Trump’s habit of rendering plain all of the metaphors used to describe him? Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Our President Is Literally Toxic," 7 Oct. 2020 Jenkins, who declines to describe himself as conservative or liberal, grew up in San Francisco. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: Newsom’s nominee for state Supreme Court would make history," 6 Oct. 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

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 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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