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 against he 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 design (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 That kind of information might even help design future outposts on the moon or Mars. Eric Niiler, Wired, "NASA Launches Astronauts to the ISS on a Reused SpaceX Rocket," 23 Apr. 2021 In his nearly two decades with the Warriors, Schneider used innovative thinking and relentless energy to overhaul the franchise’s ticket-pricing system and help design the $1.4 billion Chase Center. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "How Brandon Schneider went from waiter to Warriors president and COO," 18 Apr. 2021 Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. Quanta Magazine, "A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms," 1 Apr. 2021 She was initially brought on just to help design the puppets, but eventually became the voice (and hand) of the ever-curious Waffles. Clint Worthington, Vulture, "How Do You Feed a Puppet? Behind the Tasty Edutainment of Waffles + Mochi," 17 Mar. 2021 The tech industry, which was specifically targeted by the SolarWinds hack, needs to help design a more reliable system for developing and distributing software. Fortune, "What the first-ever U.S. national cyber director will need to succeed," 11 Mar. 2021 Survey results will be made available to the commission to help design future steps in the process. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wauwatosa will select a new police chief for the first time since 1989. Here's how residents can get involved.," 9 Mar. 2021 SpaceX is seeking an automation and controls engineer to help design and develop production systems in a manufacturing facility the company is planning to open in the Texas capitol, the job posting reads. Carlie Porterfield, Forbes, "Elon Musk’s SpaceX To Open A Factory In Austin, Job Posting Reveals," 3 Mar. 2021 Winemaker Keith Rolle, owner of Gianni Buonomo Vintners in Ocean Beach, is inviting the public to help design the label for his OB Blend wine set for release later this year. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "As local COVID cases fall, some restaurants end self-imposed hibernation," 2 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Several dozen were built and used by the Air Corps and the Navy, but the design proved too expensive. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy’s New Unhackable GPS Alternative: The Stars," 25 Apr. 2021 In 2013, both jointly negotiated with Boeing Co. on orders for and the design of the 777X aircraft. Benjamin Katz, WSJ, "How Qatar Airways, With Its Covid-19 Playbook, Dethroned Emirates as Biggest Long-Haul Airline," 25 Apr. 2021 The design prevents residents from simply removing the batteries when the alarm sounds. Cecilia Reyes,, "Chicago's political leaders fail to enact safety rules that stick," 24 Apr. 2021 Not only does the handwoven design of this egg chair exude vacation vibes, but the web-like structure can also be put to use for string lights, as one reviewer pointed out. Olivia Hanson, Better Homes & Gardens, "These Outdoor Egg Chairs Sell Out Constantly—Here’s Where You Can Still Find Them," 23 Apr. 2021 The Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on the preferred design on May 5. Susan Du, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis Park Board unveils new Bde Maka Ska pavilion design," 23 Apr. 2021 To them, the design itself made sense and took into account the region’s traditions in ways that appealed to the community. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "Confronting a shifting climate, how will California grow?," 23 Apr. 2021 The owners have since moved, and the design, as it is shown here, no longer exists. Cynthia Frank, ELLE Decor, "Tour a Legendary, Never-Before-Seen Milan Apartment, in All Its Trompe L'Oeil Glory," 22 Apr. 2021 In response to concerns from neighborhood groups, hospital officials have agreed to preserve part of the Winchell School’s facade and build it into the design of their new building., "MGH pushes ahead with nearly $2 billion expansion," 22 Apr. 2021

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

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for design



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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