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des·​ig·​nate ˈde-zig-ˌnāt How to pronounce designate (audio)
designated; designating

transitive verb

: to indicate and set apart for a specific purpose, office, or duty
designate a group to prepare a plan
: to point out the location of
a marker designating the battle
: to distinguish as to class (see class entry 1 sense 3)
the area we designate as that of spiritual valuesJ. B. Conant
: specify, stipulate
to be sent by a designated shipper
: denote
associate names with the people they designate
: to call by a distinctive title, term, or expression
a particle designated the neutron
designative adjective
designator noun
designatory adjective


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des·​ig·​nate ˈde-zig-ˌnāt How to pronounce designate (audio)
: chosen but not yet installed (see install sense 2a)
ambassador designate

Examples of designate in a Sentence

Verb The wooden stakes designate the edge of the building site. the designated time for the meeting
Recent Examples on the Web
The institution in Princess Anne in Somerset County became a land-grant university only after a law passed in 1890 made the funds contingent on designating a separate college for Black students, or proving race was not an admissions factor at College Park. Dan Belson, Baltimore Sun, 19 Sep. 2023 Indian security agencies designated Nijjar a terrorist in 2020. Karishma Mehrotra, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 The policy will be voted on at the Wednesday meeting of the Florida university system board of governors and would require all public universities in the Sunshine State to designate separate bathrooms and locker rooms for males and females or have a unisex facility. Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner, 19 Sep. 2023 Since 1964, the year after the bombing, Jack and Jill of America has designated Sept.15 as Carole Robertson Day, with activities that honor the tragedy’s background and consequences, according to Ballard House Project. Jamarean Heard, al, 19 Sep. 2023 Martoba, one of three cemeteries designated for the flood victims, took in more than 1,000 bodies in the first week. Sarah Sirgany, CNN, 18 Sep. 2023 Existing zoning laws, drafted in 1990, specify which areas of the park may be designated for hotel, retail, dining and theme park attractions. Helen Li, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2023 Dish towels are towels designated for washing and drying dishes. Maya Polton, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Sep. 2023 The State Department is primarily focused on imposing sanctions against individuals including designating one Russian Intelligence Services officer and one Georgian-Russian oligarch whom the FSB has leveraged to influence Georgian society and politics for the benefit of Russia. Luke Barr, ABC News, 14 Sep. 2023
It was supposed to have the power to, among other things, designate inspectors for the enforcement of the law. Hazlitt, 30 Aug. 2023 On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the Texas kangaroo rat as an endangered species and designate nearly 600,000 acres in critical habitat for the animal. Noor Adatia, Dallas News, 16 Aug. 2023 Svoboda said her group had been lobbying the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for months to designate Moms for Liberty as extremist. Hannah Natanson and Hannah Knowles, Anchorage Daily News, 30 June 2023 To be eligible, customers must register for Companion Pass and purchase a round trip or two one-way flights with Southwest, travel by Sept. 30 and designate one passenger to fly for free. Irving Mejia-Hilario, Dallas News, 29 Aug. 2023 Gather an assortment of vintage produce baskets in various sizes and designate different point values for each vessel. Sarah Zlotnick, Country Living, 22 Aug. 2023 Hang on Hooks Individual hooks for beach blankets and bath towels both look aesthetically pleasing and provide a way designate storage space for individuals within the household. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Aug. 2023 Two years later, Rhode Island’s General Assembly passed a bill, sponsored by state Representative Richard Windsor, a long-serving East Providence Republican, to designate August 14 as a state holiday. Brittany Bowker,, 14 Aug. 2023 For example, designate one corner for a home office and use the other side of the room as a workout space. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'designate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Verb

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

First Known Use


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1629, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of designate was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near designate

Cite this Entry

“Designate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


designated; designating
: to appoint or choose by name for a special purpose
designate someone as team captain
: to mark or point out : indicate
: to call by name or title


from Latin designatus, past participle of designare "to choose for a purpose," from de- "down, from" and signare "to mark, mark out, sign, stamp with a seal," from signum "mark, sign, image" — related to sign

More from Merriam-Webster on designate

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