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 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

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Other Words from design


designedly \ di-​ˈzī-​nəd-​lē How to pronounce design (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 Renowned architect David Adler was hired to design the new seaside summer mansion that took its place and was completed in 1929, with the famous Olmsted Brothers mapping its siting and the approach from the street., "Inside the manor: A new book explores Castle Hill on the Crane Estate," 29 Apr. 2021 For the style part of the style and sustainability equation, Pangaia recruited creative director Jenke Ahmed Tailly, a stylist known for his work with Beyoncé and other cultural artibers, to co-design the Air-Ink collection with the in-house team. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Printing Ink on Naomi Campbell’s Pangaia Sweatshirt Was Made From Air Pollution," 19 Apr. 2021 Coaches can emphasize the benefits of reinforcement and prompt clients to design reinforcement strategies with their supervisor and others who see them in action. Carylynn Larson, Forbes, "How To Empower Clients To Get The Most Out Of Their Coaching Experience," 8 Apr. 2021 Rather than design a low structure with a wide-open deck on top, the architects went for something more majestic — three pairs of parallel arches, rising in the center to about 168 feet above the river. Washington Post, "Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.," 1 Apr. 2021 As Strategy Analytics analyst Sravan Kundojjala notes, Intel struck a deal with Chinese chipmaker Rockchip in 2014 to co-design an Atom chip with an integrated 3G modem. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "In a radical change, Intel will build x86 chips for other companies," 24 Mar. 2021 Laminate is chic, easy to design with and more environmentally friendly and cost effective than solid wood doors. Barbara Schmidt, Star Tribune, "Latest design trends focus on the heart of the home – kitchens," 24 Mar. 2021 Making things easier in the future requires satellite designers to design their vehicles with features like accessible compartments and refueling ports. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Robot garbage hunters are coming to clean up space," 23 Mar. 2021 Venkateswaran is hopeful that the research will even help scientists design superior suits with joints that prevent even the smallest microbes from leaking through. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "NASA Will Map Every Living Thing on the International Space Station," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her characteristic blend of high design and hacks is what makes her house so endearing. Anna Logan, House Beautiful, "Chauncey Boothby Designs a "Perfectly Imperfect" Home for Her Own Family," 7 May 2021 The staff took first in more than two dozen categories, ranging from reporting, photography and video to advertising and design. Colin Campbell,, "The Baltimore Sun wins regional news organization of the year, other awards in annual MDDC contest," 7 May 2021 This allows for higher design and safety standards as well as greater flexibility in how spaces are used. Laurent Bataille, Forbes, "Offices Aren’t Going Anywhere, But They Won’t Be What You Expect," 6 May 2021 Roak took over the space in 2014, transforming a pair of buildings used for warehousing, office, research and design over the years into a 30-barrel brewhouse and a tasting room. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Eastern Market Brewing Co. plans Royal Oak expansion, including new taproom by end of 2021," 5 May 2021 His prices vary by complexity and design, though usually start at $100. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, "The best blinged-out nail art in San Antonio, who's doing it and how much it costs," 5 May 2021 Following investigations into the design and corruption scandals, more than 38 government employees were hit with fines or other punishments for improperly contracting out work on the train, as well as some criminal charges. Mark Stevenson, Star Tribune, "Mexico City subway collapse was a tragedy foretold," 5 May 2021 Allegations about poor design and construction on the subway line emerged soon after Ebrard left office as mayor. E. Eduardo Castillo,, "Mexico City subway overpass collapses, killing at least 23 and injuring 70, officials said," 4 May 2021 Check out the top 2021 design and décor trends, including inspirational ideas for every room, in USA TODAY's Home magazine. Julius Lasin, USA TODAY, "In a galaxy far, far away," 4 May 2021

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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for design



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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