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 The faux stone exterior, designed to discreetly stow away a propane tank, makes this compact pit the perfect lightweight option. Travel + Leisure, "Turn Your Backyard Into a Cozy Vacation Paradise With These 9 Fire Pits," 17 May 2020 But the reopenings came with new rules designed to curb the spread of the disease — another indication that the familiar ways of dining out or watching sporting events are gone for now. Rebecca Santana,, "Restaurants and racing can resume, but new rules abound," 16 May 2020 When Methodist Hospital suspended visits by Hearts Need Art, an arts program originally designed to aid cancer patients, as part of the effort to fight COVID-19, founder Constanza Roeder instantly got much busier. Deborah Martin,, "San Antonio’s Hearts Need Art connecting with isolated patients nationwide during COVID-19 pandemic," 15 May 2020 Executive director Dave Anderson said the WIAA has received $300,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal stimulus program designed to provide relief for small businesses that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "WIAA receives $300,000 in stimulus money, discusses changes to make ends meet," 15 May 2020 It’s designed to be the perfect trainer for centerfire precision-shooting practice, but the B-14R will be a hit in the exploding world of precision rimfire matches too. Field & Stream, "Field Test: The Best New Hunting and Fishing Gear of the Year," 15 May 2020 Founded in 1994, Frank Ponterio has been designing rooms, homes and hotels from his main office in Chicago. The Washington Post, "Q&A: Designer Frank Ponterio on choosing and mixing fabrics," 14 May 2020 Because catfish have smooth skin that’s difficult to grip with your fingers, specially designed pliers like these have found homes in the tackleboxes of dedicated whiskermen everywhere. Outdoor Life, "Must-have tackle for catching channel catfish," 14 May 2020 Her father, a psychologist, spent his career designing government programs for people who couldn’t afford doctor care, including Native Americans and indigent youth. Nicholas Florko, STAT, "Biotech’s new chief lobbyist says she’s a social justice advocate. Will the industry walk the walk?," 14 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The rust-resistant piece also comes with a special polyester cover to preserve its design when not in use. Travel + Leisure, "Turn Your Backyard Into a Cozy Vacation Paradise With These 9 Fire Pits," 17 May 2020 Denser by design, hotels have to work harder on integrating social-distancing requirements. Elaine Glusac, New York Times, "Hotels vs. Airbnb: Has Covid-19 Disrupted the Disrupter?," 14 May 2020 Passive funds blindly mimic an index and, by design, may include polluters. Suzy Waite,, "BlackRock’s Hildebrand Says Lawmakers Key to Climate Fight," 10 May 2020 Arcadia Premium Arcadia Premium might be a beer and wine shop by design, but as a long-time champion and purveyor of local product, proprietor Joel LaTondress has devised a fun take on a CSA to help folks and farmers during the shutdown. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Torn between cooking and takeout? Try these 10 meal kits from metro Phoenix restaurants," 6 May 2020 These tube-frame open-wheel racers are spartan by design: Anything that's not needed to go fast on dirt is omitted. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Weighing in at 1400 Pounds, with 900 Horsepower, Outlaws Drift Like Champs," 3 May 2020 The pharmaceutical supply chain is complex, global, and opaque by design. Isabelle Niu, Quartz, "Covid-19 could change how dependent the world is on China for drugs," 28 Apr. 2020 His writing is often formidably challenging, largely by design. Christopher Beha, Harper's Magazine, "Difficulties Everywhere," 27 Apr. 2020 The drop-off in air travel in early 2020 was mostly by design, as China sought to contain its coronavirus outbreak. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Coronavirus brought China’s travel industry to a standstill. Now it’s showing signs of life," 25 Apr. 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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Learn More about design

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

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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

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