verb de·scribe \ di-ˈskrīb \
|Updated on: 17 Jul 2018

Definition of describe

described; describing
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


play \-ˈskrī-bə-bəl\ adjective



Examples of describe in a Sentence

  1. The witness wasn't able to describe the robber.

  2. He described the house in perfect detail.

  3. The article describes how the experiment was done.

  4. She described watching dolphins play beside the ship.

  5. Please describe what happened next.

  6. Can you describe the lost dog to me?

  7. She used a stick to describe a circle on the ground.

Recent Examples of describe from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of describe

Middle English, from Latin describere, from de- + scribere to write — more at scribe

DESCRIBE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of describe for English Language Learners

  • : to tell someone the appearance, sound, smell, events, etc., of (something or someone) : to say what something or someone is like

  • : to make a motion or draw a line that shows the shape of (something)

DESCRIBE Defined for Kids


verb de·scribe \ di-ˈskrīb \

Definition of describe for Students

described; describing
1 : to write or tell about
  • Describe what you saw.
2 : to draw the outline of
  • First, describe a circle.

Word Root of describe

The Latin word scribere, meaning “to write,” and its form scriptus give us the roots scrib and script. Words from the Latin scribere have something to do with writing. To scribble is to write quickly or carelessly. To describe is to write or tell about something or someone. A manuscript is a document written by hand. To transcribe is to write down something spoken or copy something written.

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