adjective des·ig·nate \ ˈde-zig-ˌnāt , -nət \
Updated on: 19 Jan 2018

Definition of designate

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

Origin and Etymology of designate

Latin designatus, past participle of designare — see 1design



verb des·ig·nate \ -ˌnāt \

Definition of designate

designated; designating
transitive verb
1 : to indicate and set apart for a specific purpose, office, or duty
  • designate a group to prepare a plan
2 a : to point out the location of
  • a marker designating the battle
b : to distinguish as to class (see 1class 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


play \-ˌnā-tiv\ adjective


play \-ˌnā-tər\ noun


play \-nə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective

Examples of designate in a Sentence

  1. The wooden stakes designate the edge of the building site.

  2. the designated time for the meeting

Recent Examples of designate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of designate

DESIGNATE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of designate for English Language Learners

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



Definition of designate for English Language Learners

  • : 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)

DESIGNATE Defined for Kids


verb des·ig·nate \ ˈde-zig-ˌnāt \

Definition of designate for Students

designated; designating
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.

Word Root of designate

The Latin word signum, meaning “mark” or “indication,” gives us the root sign. Words from the Latin signum have something to do with marks, signs, or indications. A sign is a move of the hand that indicates something to others. To designate is to mark someone or something for a special purpose. A signal is an indication that an action should begin.

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of, relating to, or resembling a lion

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