design

1 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive
design a system for tracking inventory
2
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
designedly adverb

design

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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
3
a
: a deliberate undercover project or scheme : plot
a declaration of a design upon his lifeJohn 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
5
a
: 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
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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Crew Dragon, Starliner and NASA’s own Orion capsule — designed to return humans to the moon later this decade — all launch atop rockets rather than being strapped to the side of them. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 13 Apr. 2024 Voluma, part of the Juvederm family, is a hyaluronic acid dermal filler designed for restoring volume to the cheeks, mid-face and chin. Carlos Wolf, Miami Herald, 13 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for design 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'design.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near design

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/design. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

design

1 of 2 verb
de·​sign di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio)
1
a
: to think up and plan out in the mind
designed the perfect crime
b
: to have as a purpose : intend
designed to become a lawyer
c
: to create for a specific function or end
design a training program for auto mechanics
2
a
: to make a pattern or sketch of
design new fashions
b
: to think up and draw the plans for
design an airplane

design

2 of 2 noun
1
: a project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down
2
: deliberate planning : a planned intention
happened by accident rather than by design
3
: a secret project or scheme : plot
often used in plural with on or against
had designs on the money
has no designs against friendly governments
4
: a preliminary sketch, model, or plan
5
: the arrangement of elements that make up a structure or a work of art
6
: a decorative pattern

Medical Definition

design

noun
de·​sign di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio)
: a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (especially a scientific experiment)
also : the process of preparing this
design transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on design

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