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 The boomer, or person requesting help, is responsible for paying for the groceries or prescription; the retrieval service Braxton designed is completely free. Anna Beahm |, al, "Here’s 10 reasons you should have hope as we fight coronavirus together," 23 Mar. 2020 The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on Friday organized an online giving program designed to aid missionaries, church workers, and congregations who are losing money because of operation closures. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Coronavirus shutdowns place financial strain on churches," 22 Mar. 2020 Freedman’s staging of Shakespeare was bracingly democratic, designed to reach everyone — from the scholar in the crowd able to quote couplets to the newcomer just learning English. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Gerald Freedman brought a lifetime of experience, from Broadway to Hollywood, to Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater," 22 Mar. 2020 The move was in keeping with public health recommendations designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "DNR customer service counters closed, steering more license buyers to on-line option," 21 Mar. 2020 Voss explained the new luncheon was designed to help rebrand the organization as much bigger and broader than pink ribbons and to show people that Komen Houston has changed over the years. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "More than Pink luncheon celebrates 30 years of Susan G. Komen Houston," 21 Mar. 2020 App scams: People are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information. oregonlive, "Oregon’s U.S. Attorney warns of new fraud schemes exploiting coronavirus pandemic," 20 Mar. 2020 On Thursday afternoon, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, released a two-hundred-and-forty-seven-page spending bill designed to stabilize the economy during the great COVID-19 shutdown. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Republican Stimulus Bill Is Full of Holes," 20 Mar. 2020 In 2016, archaeologists found evidence that ancient Greeks may have helped design the famous Terracotta Army, which could shed new light on China’s early contact with the West. Fox News, "Ancient Chinese noblewoman discovered buried with the donkeys she used for playing polo," 20 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then further inside the ceiling, a large oval is built from a second elaborate crown molding design. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "$3.9M mansion on Orchard Lake is really more like its own private resort," 21 Mar. 2020 But everything else about the Beitou Public Library in Taipei, Taiwan, is ultra-green, thanks to a design meant to keep energy and water consumption at a minimum. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Most Beautiful Libraries," 19 Mar. 2020 The Bell Textron V-280 Valor, on the other hand, is a tiltrotor design much like the V-22 Osprey. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "And Then There Were Two: Which Helo Will Replace the Army's UH-60 Blackhawk," 18 Mar. 2020 This distressed blue rug with a daisy border Looking for a more understated design? Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, "15 popular rugs from Ruggable that will make your house cozier," 17 Mar. 2020 Try a clean, modern design that doesn't complicate a minimal aesthetic. Sarah Lloyd, Good Housekeeping, "How to Design a Modern, Minimal Kitchen," 16 Mar. 2020 The highway is still be a stair-step design with the northbound lane at a slightly higher elevation than the southbound lane on the side of the mountain. Paul Gattis |, al, "U.S. 231 near Huntsville to be closed for a year for repairs, ALDOT says," 12 Mar. 2020 And graphic designer Lindsay Leinenkugel, who created the blue and yellow Milwaukee Strong logo, is working on a T-shirt design for the event. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This Wauwatosa resident is planning a simultaneous toast at 40+ bars to show support for the Molson Coors shooting victims’ families," 11 Mar. 2020 The Trump administration has been criticized for choosing to develop its own test for the disease instead of adopting a German design distributed by the World Health Organization. Jennifer Jacobs, Fortune, "Coronavirus: Fewer than 6,000 samples have been tested in the U.S.," 7 Mar. 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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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

25 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on design

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for design

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with design

Spanish Central: Translation of design

Nglish: Translation of design for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of design for Arabic Speakers

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