de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
designed; designing; designs

Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive design a system for tracking inventory
2a : to conceive and plan out in the mind he designed the perfect crime
b : to have as a purpose : intend she designed to excel in her studies
c : to devise for a specific function or end a book designed primarily as a college textbook a suitcase designed to hold a laptop computer
3 archaic : to indicate with a distinctive mark, sign, or name
4a : to make a drawing, pattern, or sketch of … a curious woman whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage …— Oscar Wilde
b : to draw the plans for design a building designing a new bike

intransitive verb

1 : to conceive or execute a plan
2 : to draw, lay out, or prepare a design was trained to design for homes and offices



Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a particular purpose or intention held in view by an individual or group He has ambitious designs for his son.
b : deliberate purposive planning more by accident than design
2 : a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down was never part of my design
3a : a deliberate undercover project or scheme : plot a declaration of a design upon his life— John Locke
b designs plural : aggressive or evil intent used with on or againsthe has designs on the money
4 : a preliminary sketch or outline showing the main features of something to be executed the design for the new stadium
5a : an underlying scheme that governs functioning, developing, or unfolding : pattern, motif the general design of the epic
b : a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (such as a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this
6 : the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work of art … his sense of structure, both in the general design of Paradise Lost and Samson, and in his syntax …— T. S. Eliot
7 : a decorative pattern a floral design
8 : the creative art of executing aesthetic or functional designs studied design in college

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Other Words from design


designedly \ di-​ˈzī-​nəd-​lē How to pronounce designedly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for design

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for design


intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain. intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about. announced his intention to marry intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness. the clear intent of the statute purpose suggests a more settled determination. being successful was her purpose in life design implies a more carefully calculated plan. the order of events came by accident, not design aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing. her aim was to raise film to an art form end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such. willing to use any means to achieve his end object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need. his constant object was the achievement of pleasure objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable. their objective is to seize the oil fields goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship. worked years to reach her goals

plan, design, plot, scheme, project mean a method devised for making or doing something or achieving an end. plan always implies mental formulation and sometimes graphic representation. plans for a house design often suggests a particular pattern and some degree of achieved order or harmony. a design for a new dress plot implies a laying out in clearly distinguished sections with attention to their relations and proportions. the plot of the play scheme stresses calculation of the end in view and may apply to a plan motivated by craftiness and self-interest. a scheme to defraud the government project often stresses imaginative scope and vision. a project to develop the waterfront

Examples of design in a Sentence

Verb A team of engineers designed the new engine. Who designed the book's cover? He designed the chair to adjust automatically. They thought they could design the perfect crime. design a strategy for battle Noun There are problems with the design of the airplane's landing gear. I like the design of the textbook. I love the sculpture's design. The machine had a flawed design. the design and development of new products Correcting mistakes is part of the design process. a number of design concepts
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Spellbinder is easy to spot with its dizzying, multicolored can design. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, "Here are all the Arizona winners from the 2020 Great American Beer Festival," 19 Oct. 2020 Her first task on the job was to design a bedroom–specifically, her own in Los Angeles–with Target’s Casaluna collection. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, "Justina Blakeney Announces Her New Role as Target's Home Style Expert," 13 Oct. 2020 Earlier this year, a commission that included public officials and Italian-Americans selected the artist couple Jill and Giancarlo Biagi to design the sculpture, budgeted at $750,000. Zachary Small, New York Times, "Cuomo Unveils Statue of Mother Cabrini," 12 Oct. 2020 The results help clarify how the disease progresses and could possibly inform how best to use various treatments and how to design the most effective vaccines. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "An ‘uncoordinated’ immune response may explain why COVID-19 strikes some hard, particularly the elderly," 16 Sep. 2020 Pollard mentored faculty on how to design effective online courses. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Local professors win CSU Faculty Innovation Awards," 9 Sep. 2020 As designers struggle to stay afloat amidst the pandemic, young hopefuls would be wise to learn how to design for every body type now, before entering the industry. Gianluca Russo,, "For Fashion To Be Truly Inclusive,There Needs To Be Plus-Size Education," 1 Sep. 2020 However, researchers have now learned how to design vaccines to avoid this allergic response. William Petri, The Conversation, "9 reasons you can be optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available in 2021," 20 Aug. 2020 With Mr Gabaix, Mr Farhi considered how to design taxes when people are not as rational as economists typically assume. The Economist, "A lost asset Emmanuel Farhi has died at the age of 41," 30 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The scientists are now using the beetle’s design to build similarly strong fasteners with potential for use in cars, bicycles, and even airplanes. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Even a car can’t kill this beetle. Here’s why," 21 Oct. 2020 That design neatly recalls a time when there were 380 Hummer dealerships globally, frequently with a giant shiny H near the front door. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, "The 10 Coolest Easter Eggs on the 2022 GMC Hummer EV," 21 Oct. 2020 Micah Fluellen has joined the design team as a features art director. Los Angeles Times, "Los Angeles Times announces new hires, transfers and promotions," 21 Oct. 2020 The team applies design principles intended to help users who aren’t familiar with the typical iconography and language of the web, and builds products primarily for the smartphones this group is likely to be using, as opposed to computers. Katie Deighton, WSJ, "Google Rethinks App Design for Internet Novices," 21 Oct. 2020 Kym Ellery’s design process has always been about reconciling two halves: blending the refinement and technical know-how of her current home city of Paris with the very antipodean, wearable ease that reflects her brand’s beginnings in Sydney. Liam Hess, Vogue, "Meet the Upcycling Wizard Behind Ellery’s Unexpected New Collaboration," 21 Oct. 2020 Further drawing on the stunning Colorado landscape for inspiration, as well as materials that reflected it, Schumacher came up with an imaginative use for quartz in her design scheme. Sarah Baird, House Beautiful, "This Super Smart Use of Quartz Makes Your Furniture Look Built In—and Protects It," 20 Oct. 2020 City Council has authorized design work for a collapsed sanitary sewer line on Brantley Road, as well as a collaboration with Cleveland Water to replace mains on Aldersyde around the school campus. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, "Shaker proceeds with design work on Brantley sewer, Aldersyde water main replacement projects," 20 Oct. 2020 The design changes to the new iPhones are substantive. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "Apple iPhone 12 Review: Superfast Speed, if You Can Find It," 20 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'design.' 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 design


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for design

Verb and Noun

Middle English, to outline, indicate, mean, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French designer to designate, from Medieval Latin designare, from Latin, to mark out, from de- + signare to mark — more at sign

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Learn More about design

Time Traveler for design

Time Traveler

The first known use of design was in the 14th century

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Statistics for design

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for design


How to pronounce design (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created) : to create the plans, drawings, etc., that show how (something) will be made
: to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose
: to think of (something, such as a plan) : to plan (something) in your mind



English Language Learners Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

: the way something has been made : the way the parts of something (such as a building, machine, book, etc.) are formed and arranged for a particular use, effect, etc.
: the process of planning how something will look, happen, be made, etc. : the process of designing something
: a drawing of something that is being planned or created


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
designed; designing

Kids Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to think up and plan out in the mind Our engineers have designed a new engine.
2 : to set apart for or have as a special purpose : intend The Web site is designed for fun.
3 : to make a pattern or sketch of She designs clothes.



Kids Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an arrangement of parts in a structure or a work of art The design of the house suits a large family.
2 : the art or process of planning and creating something His job is Web page design.
3 : a sketch, model, or plan of something made or to be made Architects studied the design for the building.
4 : a decorative pattern
6 : a planned intention As if by design, they both stopped at the same spot …— Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee
7 : a secret purpose : plot I know you have designs on my money.


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \

Medical Definition of design

: a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (especially a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this

Other Words from design

design transitive verb

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