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 New Rochelle, a New York suburb that has been designated a coronavirus containment zone after an outbreak there, on Friday became the first East Coast site of drive-thru testing. Amy Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Under heavy fire, Trump administration announces steps to expand coronavirus testing," 13 Mar. 2020 The decision was reached after ongoing conversations between producers of the shows and in an effort to halt transmission of the novel coronavirus, which on Wednesday was designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Los Angeles Times, "New York-based late-night shows to suspend live audience tapings over coronavirus threat," 11 Mar. 2020 Households responding to the census online will receive instructions that include a unique user ID that is designated for their address. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "2020 census self-responding starts today. Here’s what you need to know," 11 Mar. 2020 Ray Kaukonde, Shuvai Ben Mahofa, Sithokozile Mathuthu and Naison Ndlovu—who were previously designated in 2005 for allegedly undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "U.S. Treasury Blacklists Two Zimbabwean Officials for Alleged Human Rights Abuses," 11 Mar. 2020 Within just a few years, Lucy had reopened to the public; by 1976, she was designated as a national landmark. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Spend a Night in This 65-Foot-Tall, Elephant-Shaped Airbnb," 4 Mar. 2020 The tax will apply only in the city’s more than 30 neighborhood commercial corridors —including 12 that were newly designated in January. Shwanika Narayan,, "San Francisco tax on vacant storefronts too close to call," 3 Mar. 2020 Their request was finally partially granted last February, when 55 male bison were transported to Fort Peck Indian Reservation in central Montana, where a fenced area has been designated for them. CBS News, "Yellowstone National Park begins capturing bison for possible slaughter," 3 Mar. 2020 Shortstop Freddie Galvis, who has been designated hitting while rehabbing his shoulder, is scheduled to play in the field on Thursday. John Fay,, "Sonny Gray has 'a little fun' in the Cincinnati Reds' 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers," 2 Mar. 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

Cite this Entry

“Designate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 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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