des·​ig·​nate | \ˈde-zig-ˌnāt, -nət\

Definition of designate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: chosen but not yet installed (see install sense 1b) ambassador designate


des·​ig·​nate | \-ˌnāt \
designated; designating

Definition of designate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to indicate and set apart for a specific purpose, office, or duty designate a group to prepare a plan

2a : to point out the location of a marker designating the battle

b : to distinguish as to class (see class entry 1 sense 3) the area we designate as that of spiritual values— J. B. Conant

c : specify, stipulate to be sent by a designated shipper

3 : denote associate names with the people they designate

4 : to call by a distinctive title, term, or expression a particle designated the neutron

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Other Words from designate


designative \ -​ˌnā-​tiv \ adjective
designator \ -​ˌnā-​tər \ noun
designatory \ -​nə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for designate

Synonyms: Verb

appoint, assign, attach, commission, constitute, detail, name, nominate, place

Antonyms: Verb

discharge, dismiss, expel, fire

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Examples of designate in a Sentence


The wooden stakes designate the edge of the building site. the designated time for the meeting

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Although rediscovered only in 2013 near the town of Pamukkale — famous for its surreal, Unesco-designate travertine hot spring terraces — the cave’s existence has been known since antiquity as part of what was then Hierapolis. Time, "Animals Dropped Dead Inside Roman 'Gate to Hell.' Scientists Just Figured Out Why," 22 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 2014, the United Nations designated Dundee as a UNESCO City of Design (the first in the U.K., actually) for its valuable contributions to the fields of video games, textiles, and comic book design. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "A Guide to Dundee, Scotland—the First City Outside London to Get Its Very Own V&A Museum," 14 July 2018 Most states designate motor vehicle departments or license renewals as points of registration. Matt Stout,, "Senate unanimously backs automatic voter registration; bill may reach governor soon," 13 July 2018 The list, devised by a panel of judges selected by attractions-professional website Blooloop in conjunction with Omnico Group, designates a Power 10. Dewayne Bevil,, "New list spotlights theme-park influencers, including Rohde, Iger, Coup," 11 July 2018 The Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Health Centers Construction Act designated $330 million for planning and building new facilities for this population group. Alice George, Smithsonian, "For 50 Years, the Special Olympics Has Given Marginalized Superstars Center Stage," 10 July 2018 The Saturday of the second UCLA game had been designated senior day, and Casey was in his element. Ron Richmond For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Inside Luke Heimlich's senior season with the Oregon State baseball team," 8 June 2018 The two most likely scenarios, and not necessarily in this order,involve him being traded or being designated for assignment and then picked up by another club. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers continue to talk trades, but are they getting anywhere?," 9 July 2018 The Boston Latin exam school, for instance, didn’t lose quality or prestige when about a third of seats were designated for African-American and Latino students for two decades – before being stopped by a court case. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Keep the test!' A debate flares over exam-based public high schools.," 6 July 2018 The national safety agency agreed and urged fire departments to designate collapse zones when structural failure is suspected and then keep firefighters outside the zones. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "In a tragic loop, firefighters continue to die from preventable mistakes," 13 July 2018

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


1629, in the meaning defined above


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for designate


Latin designatus, past participle of designare — see design entry 1


see designate entry 1

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Statistics for designate

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Time Traveler for designate

The first known use of designate was in 1596

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More Definitions for designate



English Language Learners Definition of designate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: chosen for a particular job but not officially doing that job yet



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

: to officially choose (someone or something) to do or be something : to officially give (someone or something) a particular role or purpose

: to call (something or someone) by a particular name or title

: to be used as a name for (something or someone)


des·​ig·​nate | \ˈde-zig-ˌnāt \
designated; designating

Kids Definition of designate

1 : to appoint or choose for a special purpose They designated a leader.

2 : to call by a name or title Let's designate this angle of the triangle a.

3 : to mark or point out : indicate These lines designate the boundaries.

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Comments on designate

What made you want to look up designate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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