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 Thermal baths designed to be 'the jewel of Pompeii' have finally been opened to visitors after a painstaking excavation. Fox News, "Tragic remains of Pompeii child who tried to shelter from volcano found at ‘grand baths’," 28 Nov. 2019 Jericho, the baby, died some time ago, and what the Turners have hired Leanne to look after is actually a doll made in his image, designed to help Dorothy survive the trauma of losing her child. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch (and Skip) in Theaters and on Netflix This Thanksgiving Weekend," 27 Nov. 2019 But Connor said each of the activities has been designed to help children learn motor skills, increase social interaction or learn something practical. Clara Turnage, Arkansas Online, "Little Rock center allows all kids to play, learn," 24 Nov. 2019 Yet lawmakers struck language designed to help foster families from a children’s health care bill that passed late Wednesday., "Incidents of child neglect in group homes in Massachusetts — homes that are supposed to be safe harbors for abused and neglected children — jumped sharply in the past year, according to a new report from the state’s Child Advocate.," 22 Nov. 2019 He also was sentenced to three years of probation through the Multnomah County Justice Reinvestment Program, which is designed to help defendants find housing, get treatment and otherwise stabilize their lives. oregonlive, "Man convicted of spitting on Portland cops in 4 separate cases gets more than year in prison," 21 Nov. 2019 Much of cutting-edge science studies living things and uses their mechanisms and adaptations to help design better, stronger, more environmentally friendly, and otherwise advantageous new materials and machines. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The Devil Worm Is So Metal," 21 Nov. 2019 State officials unveiled a pilot program Wednesday designed to help Central Florida residents battling serious mental illness or addiction get — and keep — housing. Kate Santich,, "Florida launching pilot project to help house homeless with mental illness, substance abuse issues," 20 Nov. 2019 Their daughter, in high school at the time, helped design one of the new baths, opting for carpet, a step into the bath and a mirror overlaid with a wood lattice. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Hot Property: A $575,000 Art Deco home so unique the Realtor made a goofy video you can't miss," 15 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dana-Farber is among the initial partners in the planned facility, for which the organizers have $50 million in commitments to cover design, construction, and early operation., "Partners HealthCarewill now be known asMass General Brigham," 1 Dec. 2019 The design of the study shops out the actual research to academic or government partners in each state and provides grant funding to conduct the work. Kyle Bagenstose, USA TODAY, "White House, CDC feuding over study of toxic chemicals in drinking water," 30 Nov. 2019 The Italian fashion house is suing Fashion Nova for replicating the famous design, which JLo reprised earlier this year on the spring 2020 runway. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Jennifer Lopez's Iconic Versace Dress is at the Center of a Huge Lawsuit," 28 Nov. 2019 By removing the repetitive designs, adding then sanding the areas with wood putty, and repainting the cabinetry in Equinox by Dunn Edwards, the office is now a fun place to pay bills. azcentral, "Inside the Peoria home of an extreme holiday decorator. Take a look," 28 Nov. 2019 But that’s starting to shift a bit as companies court younger adults with sleek new ship designs, active itineraries (rock climbing, anyone?) and cool technology. Ellen Uzelac,, "Not your grandma’s vacation: River cruises turn to active travel and technology to recruit next generation of passengers," 26 Nov. 2019 In fact, in 2003 Kravitz launched Kravitz Design, specializing in commercial and residential design, product development and branding. Ashley Mcdonough, Essence, "These 10 Celebrities Are Earning Big, While Side-Hustling Like The Rest Of Us," 26 Nov. 2019 The announcement is the latest step in Ivey’s plans to select companies to finance, design, build, and maintain three new men’s prisons that the state would lease and operate. Mike Cason, al, "Gov. Kay Ivey names 4 developer teams to bid on new Alabama prisons," 26 Nov. 2019 The label’s austere design aesthetic—block letters, black-and-white photography, sparse notes—was consistent to the point of self-parody. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Pristine Empire of ECM Records," 25 Nov. 2019

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

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Design.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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