design

verb
de·​sign | \di-ˈzīn \

Definition of design 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive design a system for tracking inventory

2a : to conceive and plan out in the mind he designed the perfect crime

b : to have as a purpose : intend she designed to excel in her studies

c : to devise for a specific function or end a book designed primarily as a college textbook a suitcase designed to hold a laptop computer

3 archaic : to indicate with a distinctive mark, sign, or name

4a : to make a drawing, pattern, or sketch of … a curious woman whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage …— Oscar Wilde

b : to draw the plans for design a building designing a new bike

intransitive verb

1 : to conceive or execute a plan

2 : to draw, lay out, or prepare a design was trained to design for homes and offices

design

noun

Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a particular purpose or intention held in view by an individual or group He has ambitious designs for his son.

b : deliberate purposive planning more by accident than design

2 : a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down was never part of my design

3a : a deliberate undercover project or scheme : plot a declaration of a design upon his life— John Locke

b designs plural : aggressive or evil intent used with on or against he has designs on the money

4 : a preliminary sketch or outline showing the main features of something to be executed the design for the new stadium

5a : an underlying scheme that governs functioning, developing, or unfolding : pattern, motif the general design of the epic

b : a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (such as a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this

6 : the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work of art … his sense of structure, both in the general design of Paradise Lost and Samson, and in his syntax …— T. S. Eliot

7 : a decorative pattern a floral design

8 : the creative art of executing aesthetic or functional designs studied design in college

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from design

Verb

designedly \-​ˈzī-​nəd-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms for design

Synonyms: Verb

aim, allow [chiefly Southern & Midland], aspire, calculate, contemplate, go [chiefly Southern & Midland], intend, look, mean, meditate, plan, propose, purport, purpose

Synonyms: Noun

arrangement, blueprint, game, game plan, ground plan, master plan, plan, program, project, road map, scheme, strategy, system

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for design

Noun

intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain. intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about. announced his intention to marry intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness. the clear intent of the statute purpose suggests a more settled determination. being successful was her purpose in life design implies a more carefully calculated plan. the order of events came by accident, not design aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing. her aim was to raise film to an art form end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such. willing to use any means to achieve his end object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need. his constant object was the achievement of pleasure objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable. their objective is to seize the oil fields goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship. worked years to reach her goals

plan, design, plot, scheme, project mean a method devised for making or doing something or achieving an end. plan always implies mental formulation and sometimes graphic representation. plans for a house design often suggests a particular pattern and some degree of achieved order or harmony. a design for a new dress plot implies a laying out in clearly distinguished sections with attention to their relations and proportions. the plot of the play scheme stresses calculation of the end in view and may apply to a plan motivated by craftiness and self-interest. a scheme to defraud the government project often stresses imaginative scope and vision. a project to develop the waterfront

Examples of design in a Sentence

Verb

A team of engineers designed the new engine. Who designed the book's cover? He designed the chair to adjust automatically. They thought they could design the perfect crime. design a strategy for battle

Noun

There are problems with the design of the airplane's landing gear. I like the design of the textbook. I love the sculpture's design. The machine had a flawed design. the design and development of new products Correcting mistakes is part of the design process. a number of design concepts
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The people who design and build buildings never pay the utility bills, and in much of America, people who own the buildings don’t pay the bills either. David Roberts, Vox, "Climate change policy can be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to the policies that work.," 30 Nov. 2018 That 60 percent of adults who might decide to ride is who cities should be catering to when welcoming new modes and designing new infrastructure—not the 10 percent of adults who are already out there. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "How electric bikes can make cities safer," 30 Nov. 2018 The behavior of the vessels and changes in their ownership reveal an expanding toolbox of strategies designed to keep North Korea’s shipping, and economy, afloat. Niharika Mandhana, WSJ, "Fake Signals and Illegal Flags: How North Korea Uses Clandestine Shipping to Fund Regime," 28 Nov. 2018 This was the maiden voyage of eXXpedition, a series of all-women global sailing trips designed to raise awareness around the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. Tyler Wetherall, Condé Nast Traveler, "The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic," 27 Nov. 2018 Happily, more and more beauty and textile brands are coming out with pillowcases specifically designed to target certain beauty concerns, like wrinkling skin and frizzy hair. Lauren Swanson, Allure, "15 Pillowcases That'll Transform Your Hair and Skin for the Better," 13 Nov. 2018 Every year, some 700,000 deaths are attributed to pathogens that are resistant to penicillin and other drugs designed to kill them — largely in response to overprescription and careless disposal. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Bacteria That Eat Drugs Could Help Solve the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis," 8 Nov. 2018 But for the final day of the royal tour, Meghan opted for two incredible designers—Givenchy and Stella McCartney—both of whom designed inimitable wedding day looks for the Duchess. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Enlists Her Two Wedding Dress Designers for Her Final Royal Tour Looks," 31 Oct. 2018 But for $160, Everlane’s extra-puffy option will do the trick thanks to its microfiber thermal insulation and boxy fit with a hidden drawstring waist that's designed to keep in heat. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Everlane's ReNew Puffer With a 38,000 Person Waitlist Is Back in Stock," 29 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That's by design, according to Eberling, who recalled sitting on a panel with Stevie Wonder at a disability conference several years ago. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New wearable tech lets users listen to live music through their skin," 25 Nov. 2018 Kitchens, houses, stores are all su misura, by design. Maria Shollenbarger, ELLE Decor, "An Italian Design Firm Transforms Discreet-but-Luxe Kitchens with a Timeless Florentine Aesthetic," 18 Oct. 2018 By design, Rawling, the initial benefactor, had a multifaceted plan for using the site, and raising funds, because visitor revenue simply wouldn’t cover upkeep. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rethinking the modern house museum," 12 Oct. 2018 Waight Keller and Meghan also worked in tandem to craft her dress, keeping the designs and even the fact that Waight Keller was crafting the dress tightly under wraps until the day of the wedding. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Everything That Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress Had in Common with Meghan Markle's," 12 Oct. 2018 Before Fluide, Giancarlo worked in design, creative strategy, and dabbled in typographic cake-making while Kraber worked in the start-up sphere and as a nutritionist. Ludmila Leiva, Allure, "Meet Fluide, the Makeup Brand That Believes in the Power of Inclusion — Not Tokenism," 10 Sep. 2018 In other words, Spectre and Meltdown aren’t bugs—just flaws in the design of all modern chips—and a new model may be needed. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Solving Spectre and Meltdown may ultimately require an entirely new type of processor," 21 Aug. 2018 Remember: Anything that's extreme will be temporary by design will yield just as temporary results, which is no way to begin a healthier lifestyle. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "6 Things You Need to Know Before Trying Whole30," 7 Aug. 2018 At this scale, huge geological patterns look like seashells, and mountain ranges resemble the branches of cherry trees, revealing the economical self-similarity of Nature’s designs. Steven Poole, WSJ, "What to Give: Science Books," 15 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'design.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of design

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

Noun

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for design

Verb

Middle English, to outline, indicate, mean, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French designer to designate, from Medieval Latin designare, from Latin, to mark out, from de- + signare to mark — more at sign

Noun

see design entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about design

Statistics for design

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for design

The first known use of design was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for design

design

verb

English Language Learners Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created) : to create the plans, drawings, etc., that show how (something) will be made

: to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose

: to think of (something, such as a plan) : to plan (something) in your mind

design

noun

English Language Learners Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

: the way something has been made : the way the parts of something (such as a building, machine, book, etc.) are formed and arranged for a particular use, effect, etc.

: the process of planning how something will look, happen, be made, etc. : the process of designing something

: a drawing of something that is being planned or created

design

verb
de·​sign | \di-ˈzīn \
designed; designing

Kids Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to think up and plan out in the mind Our engineers have designed a new engine.

2 : to set apart for or have as a special purpose : intend The Web site is designed for fun.

3 : to make a pattern or sketch of She designs clothes.

design

noun

Kids Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an arrangement of parts in a structure or a work of art The design of the house suits a large family.

2 : the art or process of planning and creating something His job is Web page design.

3 : a sketch, model, or plan of something made or to be made Architects studied the design for the building.

4 : a decorative pattern

6 : a planned intention As if by design, they both stopped at the same spot …— Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee

7 : a secret purpose : plot I know you have designs on my money.

design

noun
de·​sign | \di-ˈzīn \

Medical Definition of design 

: a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (especially a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this

Other Words from design

design transitive verb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on design

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with design

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for design

Spanish Central: Translation of design

Nglish: Translation of design for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of design for Arabic Speakers

Comments on design

What made you want to look up design? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!