de·​scrip·​tion di-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce description (audio)
: an act of describing
specifically : discourse intended to give a mental image of something experienced
beautiful beyond description
gave an accurate description of what he saw
: a statement or account giving the characteristics of someone or something : a descriptive statement or account
The review was little more than a description of the film's plot.
: kind or character especially as determined by salient (see salient entry 1 sense 3b) features
someone fitting the suspect's description
had toys of every description
opposed to any tax of so radical a description
Choose the Right Synonym for description

type, kind, sort, nature, description, character mean a number of individuals thought of as a group because of a common quality or qualities.

type may suggest strong and clearly marked similarity throughout the items included so that each is typical of the group.

one of three basic body types

kind may suggest natural grouping.

a zoo seemingly having animals of every kind

sort often suggests some disparagement.

the sort of newspaper dealing in sensational stories

nature may imply inherent, essential resemblance rather than obvious or superficial likenesses.

two problems of a similar nature

description implies a group marked by agreement in all details belonging to a type as described or defined.

not all acts of that description are actually illegal

character implies a group marked by distinctive likenesses peculiar to the type.

research on the subject so far has been of an elementary character

Examples of description in a Sentence

Reporters called the scene “a disaster area,” and I think that was an accurate description. I applied for the position after reading the job description. a writer with a gift of description
Recent Examples on the Web There have been no arrests made, and there is no description of a suspect vehicle. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2024 The Coast Guard said the search resumed after a good Samaritan located a vessel matching the description of the boat Kale was aboard. Gabe Hauari, USA TODAY, 10 Apr. 2024 Authorities said a taxi driver called 911 and reported picking up a foreign tourist who matched Brad’s description on the road to La Pasión island, according to Mexico News Daily. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 8 Apr. 2024 Questions about military protocol The Israeli military’s description of how troops violated protocols raises broader concerns about the procedures that the military is using to identify military targets and authorize attacks, Dill said. Amanda Taub, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2024 Around midnight, an officer spotted a vehicle matching the description driving west on H Street. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Apr. 2024 To read Axios reporter Felix Salmon’s description of it, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders is an epochal event. Noah Rothman, National Review, 8 Apr. 2024 The description painted the migration as a giant game of follow the leader, smaller herbivores benefiting from following larger herbivores. T. Michael Anderson, Discover Magazine, 6 Apr. 2024 Update: April 6, 2024, 8:30 am: This guide was updated to include new guidance for DuckDuckGo and Ghostery, as well as to bring some descriptions of browser providers' data collection policies up to date. David Nield, WIRED, 6 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'description.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English descripcioun, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin description-, descriptio, from describere — see describe

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of description was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near description

Cite this Entry

“Description.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​scrip·​tion di-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce description (audio)
: an account of something
especially : an account that presents a picture to a person who reads or hears it
: sort entry 1 sense 1a, kind
people of every description

Middle English descripcioun "description," from early French descripcioun and Latin description-, descriptio (both, same meaning), from Latin describere "to describe," from de- "down" and scribere "to write" — related to scribe

Legal Definition


: a representation in words of the nature and characteristics of a thing: as
: a specification of the boundaries of a piece of land (as for a deed)
: an explanation of an invention in a patent application or printed publication

More from Merriam-Webster on description

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