des·​ig·​nate | \ ˈde-zig-ˌnāt How to pronounce designate (audio) , -nət \

Definition of designate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: chosen but not yet installed (see install sense 2a) ambassador designate


des·​ig·​nate | \ ˈde-zig-ˌnāt How to pronounce designate (audio) \
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 \ ˈde-​zig-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce designate (audio) \ adjective
designator \ ˈde-​zig-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce designate (audio) \ noun
designatory \ ˈde-​zig-​nə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce designate (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for designate

Synonyms: Verb

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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: Adjective Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has stepped down just nine months after he was tasked with forming the country's next government. Aj Willingham, CNN, 16 July 2021 Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, named to the post in October, has failed to gain support from the presidency for his cabinet picks — and the two sides have locked horns over who gets more say in shaping a government. Washington Post, 17 June 2021 The latest political dispute is between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, 28 May 2021 Approval would allow the Township Board to negotiate, purchase, designate use of the property and make improvements, according to the agenda. Bill Jones,, 26 June 2021 Biden officials, Newsom designate two areas off California coast for wind turbine development. Taylor Kate Brown, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 May 2021 Nearly 500 advocates, human rights activists, and nonprofit organizations sent a letter this week to the White House calling for the Biden administration to re-designate TPS for Haitians living in the US. Geneva Sands, CNN, 30 Apr. 2021 The company’s experience in hiring people that self-designate as disabled in their distribution centers (DCs) has been positive. Steve Banker, Forbes, 7 Apr. 2021 That will set off weeks of horse-trading as the prime minister-designate tries to cobble together a government with promises of generous budgets and powerful ministries to his would-be partners. Laurie Kellman,, 23 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The policies also sometimes address a board response and that groups coming to the meeting should designate a spokesperson. Mj Slaby, The Indianapolis Star, 21 July 2021 What started off as a useful label for demographers and statisticians eventually became a necessary hall pass to designate a place large enough to qualify for key federal grants. Neal Earley, Arkansas Online, 15 July 2021 In 2012, the scientists made a second attempt, this time through UNESCO; local officials and the Mexican government agreed to designate Bacalar an internationally important wetlands site. Allison Keeley, The New Yorker, 12 July 2021 Ramón Vásquez, executive member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, said the Alamo should reconsider the policy or designate a place on the complex that’s fully excavated to prevent any future testing from being tainted by modern cremated remains. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 29 June 2021 Such temperatures are rare in the Pacific Northwest, and referee Rosendo Mendoza can designate regular water breaks during the game. Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune, 26 June 2021 The new state law that legalizes recreational marijuana use also allows cities and towns to regulate where it can be sold, setting up an opportunity for communities to designate specific districts, set other rules or ban retail sales altogether. Don Stacom,, 24 June 2021 Under the national security law, a panel of three judges can replace jurors, and the city's leader has the power to designate judges to hear such cases. Zen Soo And Matthew Cheng, USA TODAY, 23 June 2021 Under the national security law, a panel of three judges can replace jurors, and the city’s leader has the power to designate judges to hear such cases. Time, 23 June 2021

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

Adjective and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for designate

Time Traveler

The first known use of designate was in 1596

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Statistics for designate

Last Updated

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Designate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for designate



English Language Learners Definition of designate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : 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 How to pronounce designate (audio) \
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on designate

Nglish: Translation of designate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of designate for Arabic Speakers


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