de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
designed; designing; designs

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



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 againsthe 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

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Other Words from design


designedly \ di-​ˈzī-​nəd-​lē How to pronounce designedly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for design

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for design


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Students working with Samford University’s Center for Sports Analytics have set out to answer that question last semester and designed an online survey to gauge college football fandom. Josh Bean |, al, "Does Alabama or Auburn have more fans? Survey says answer," 12 Jan. 2020 Finding solutions Hospital and rural health groups across Colorado lobby for changes in insurance plan designs to circumvent the impact from high-deductible plans. Markian Hawryluk, USA TODAY, "Rural hospital closures leave communities reeling – and high deductibles contribute," 10 Jan. 2020 Kirksey Architecture designed the new space, which is being built out by O’Donnell/Snider Construction. Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, "Real estate transactions: Read King shops Galleria area for new HQ," 10 Jan. 2020 So, scientists there will participate in designing, building, and operating the new collider. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Department of Energy picks New York over Virginia for site of new particle collider," 9 Jan. 2020 Even Susan Alexandera has taken a cue from the fruit; designing earrings, a purse, and a Champion x Urban Outfitters line that featured the fruit. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Dua Lipa Wore an Adorable Strawberry Outfit," 9 Jan. 2020 The Bushehr facility, which became operational in 2010, sits on an active fault line and is designed to withstand earthquakes measuring up to a 9 magnitude on the Richter scale. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Pair of earthquakes hit near Iranian nuclear plant," 8 Jan. 2020 In the past 10 years, Boccuzzi has also released a line of pasta sauces available at Heinen’s grocery stores, designed a t-shirt line, and worked on building a food truck. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Decade of Dante: Tremont restaurant to celebrate 10th birthday," 7 Jan. 2020 But the telescope that Descartes designed, the telescope Leibniz longed for, proved impossible for Descartes’s workmen to manufacture. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, "The Imperfect Telescope," 7 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun StoneRoot tapped KDA Architects for the design and hopes to open the restaurant in 2021. Janelle Bitker,, "StoneRoot Field & Sea plots two Bay Area restaurants to connect diners to agriculture," 13 Jan. 2020 Communities will need to properly manicure adjacent forests, landscape their own private property, and have effective house design and maintenance, Leonard said. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "Australia's indigenous people have a solution for the country's bushfires. And it's been around for 50,000 years," 12 Jan. 2020 In the two years that followed, Ms. Coleman worked in retail, did freelance textile design and made displays for Tower Records before giving California a shot. Lauren Messman, New York Times, "She Hustled to Create Her Art. Then Unemployment Hit.," 12 Jan. 2020 She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. The Washington Post, "Q&A: Trisha Roy of Barn & Willow on Window Treatments," 11 Jan. 2020 Today's computer chips are fiendishly complicated, containing billions of transistors and requiring years of design and testing to create. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "AMD’s Command Performace at CES 2020 Was Years in the Making," 10 Jan. 2020 Inside, the steering wheel is now wrapped in faux suede and the shifter has a different design and shorter throws. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2020 Honda Civic Type R Adds Features and a Great New Color," 10 Jan. 2020 The purchase removed a competitor, but also changed Boeing in fundamental ways that contributed to the 737 Max crash, by shifting its priorities from design and engineering to costs. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "Boeing employees pushed back on “stupid” airlines and regulators who asked for more pilot training," 10 Jan. 2020 The festive electric kettle features vibrant floral designs and automatically shuts off when water reaches boiling temperature. Mary Honkus,, "Kris Jenner's Christmas Gift Bags Included Over $100,000 Worth of Dolce&Gabbana x SMEG Appliances," 10 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of design


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


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for design

Verb and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for design

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for design

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Design.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for design


How to pronounce design (audio)

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



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


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
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.



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.


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on design

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for design

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to insert between existing elements

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