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 designative (audio) \ adjective
designator \ ˈde-​zig-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce designator (audio) \ noun
designatory \ ˈde-​zig-​nə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce designatory (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 Ratti and his team created a series of wooden modules that are embedded with lights that could help direct vehicle and pedestrian traffic, as well as designate bike lanes or hazard zones. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Futuristic road concept is made of reconfigurable parts that light up," 6 Aug. 2018 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 Last year the White House tried an accounting trick to bypass the spending caps by designating almost $100 billion in base budget as OCO funds. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Even freed from spending caps, the Pentagon is forced to live within a tighter budget," 11 Feb. 2020 The family has designated the Touchdown Club of Houston and the Fred J. and Jann Curry Endowed Scholarship at the University of Texas School of Nursing for memorial contributions. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Fred Curry, creator of Bayou Bucket trophy, dead at 89," 10 Feb. 2020 After the massacre, Mr. Trump said the U.S. would designate Mexico’s drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move that Mexico strongly opposed. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Mexico, Under U.S. Pressure, Adds Muscle to Fight Against Drug Cartels," 7 Feb. 2020 Wan's first assignment was to pick up a nurse from home and drive her to the Jinyintan Hospital, a key facility designated by the government to treat patients infected with the pneumonia-like illness. Nectar Gan, CNN, "In coronavirus-stricken Wuhan, an army of volunteers is offering a lifeline to those under lockdown," 7 Feb. 2020 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, echoed this sentiment right before his agency designated the novel coronavirus epidemic as a global health emergency on January 30. National Geographic, "‘I can’t wait to hold my kids again’: Life inside Wuhan’s quarantine," 6 Feb. 2020 The past two weekends have also seen protests in residential neighborhoods where the government had designated nearby facilities as quarantine sites. Mary Hui, Quartz, "The China coronavirus is now at the center of Hong Kong’s protests," 3 Feb. 2020 As the designated Rodeo Tomato for 2020, the Red Snapper will be offered in 4.5-inch and 1-gallon containers at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo by the Bexar County Master Gardeners in their exhibits in the H-E-B Little Buckaroo Farm tent. Calvin Finch,, "Calvin Finch: All hail the new 2020 Rodeo Tomato: Red Snapper," 30 Jan. 2020 The scientists based their research in the Crozet Islands, a distant part of the French overseas empire and fully designated as a nature conservancy. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Bird Cops Are Catching Illegal Fishermen," 29 Jan. 2020

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

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Designate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for designate


How to pronounce designate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of designate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


How to pronounce designate (audio)

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.

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