de·​tail | \ di-ˈtāl How to pronounce detail (audio) , ˈdē-ˌtāl How to pronounce detail (audio) \

Definition of detail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extended treatment of or attention to particular items explaining without going into detail giving careful attention to detail
2 : a part of a whole: such as
a : a small and subordinate part : particular planned the wedding down to the smallest detail also : a reproduction of such a part of a work of art
b : a part considered or requiring to be considered separately from the whole discussing the details of the building's columns
c : the small elements that collectively constitute a work of art admire the great detail of his work
d photography : the small elements of an image corresponding to those of the subject strong lighting to achieve clarity of detail
3a : selection of a person or group for a particular task (as in military service)
b(1) : the person or group selected a member of a security detail police details at the parade
(2) : the task to be performed were assigned to kitchen detail
in detail
: with all the particulars explained the job in detail


detailed; detailing; details

Definition of detail (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to report minutely and distinctly : to report with close attention to small elements : specify detailed their grievances wrote a letter detailing her vacation
2 : to assign to a particular task was detailed to another unit during maneuvers
3 : to furnish with the smaller elements of design and finish trimmings that detail slips and petticoats
4 : to clean and refurbish (a vehicle) very thoroughly and meticulously detail a car

intransitive verb

: to make detail drawings

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Other Words from detail


detailer noun

Synonyms for detail

Synonyms: Noun

item, particular, point

Synonyms: Verb

post, station

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Choose the Right Synonym for detail


item, detail, particular mean one of the distinct parts of a whole. item applies to each thing specified separately in a list or in a group of things that might be listed or enumerated. every item on the list detail applies to one of the small component parts of a larger whole such as a task, building, painting, narration, or process. leave the details to others particular stresses the smallness, singleness, and especially the concreteness of a detail or item. a description that included few particulars

Examples of detail in a Sentence


Every detail of the wedding was carefully planned. They designed every detail of the house. the wooden box's fine carved detail We admired the detail of the artist's work. The job requires attention to detail. The article provides further details. You left out an important detail about their new baby: is it a girl or boy? The novel is full of historical details. The book includes a wealth of detail on living conditions aboard ships at that time. The novel is full of historical detail.


The book details the series of events that led to the tragedy. She wrote a letter detailing her complaints. The Army has detailed him to investigate the complaints.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yet fragments of insight survive in unexpected places: an aside in an 18th-century letter; a detail in a slave account or court record; an observation by a sociologist on an Indian reservation. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, "‘Mother Is a Verb’ Review: What’s It Like to Be a Mom?," 9 May 2019 All the juicy details at, link in bio. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "Kraft Is Here to Save Mother's Day By Covering Your Babysitter Bill This Sunday," 7 May 2019 The attention to detail and use of pattern made the space stand out without feeling overly-glamorous. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "See the Dramatic Reveal from the Best Room Wins Series Premiere," 2 May 2019 Still, photos released by the Air Force reveal a curious detail: one F-35A that participated in the attack was equipped with a pair of AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The USAF’s F-35A Just Saw Combat for the First Time," 1 May 2019 The details of what people are looking at—the shape of a particular body part or asymmetry in certain features, as examples—overtake the big picture and create a distorted view, Dr. Phillips explains. Stephanie Dubick, SELF, "How to Show Up for Someone You Love With Body Dysmorphic Disorder," 16 Apr. 2019 That news, plus a new Lego Star Wars, an Old Republic expansion and potential film adaptation, details for Netflix’s Witcher series, a remake of cult classic shooter XIII, and more. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Lego Star Wars returns, Ubisoft gives away Assassin's Creed: Unity after Notre Dame fire," 15 Apr. 2019 With Overgard kept studiously free of any real character details, the movie can start to feel strangely monotonous, an endless cavalcade of catastrophe that at times stretches the limits of credibility. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Arctic is a pure distillation of the man vs. nature genre," 1 Feb. 2019 These details, along with even smaller ones, such as the availability of roadside assistance, add up to meaningful differences. Car and Driver, "A Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Could Be a Great Deal," 22 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her reception gown featured a sheer bustier top with pearl detailing and a full skirt. Neha Prakash, Glamour, "Gina Rodriguez Wore Not One, But Two Gorgeous Wedding Dresses," 6 May 2019 Universally hated and rejected, Johnson returned with what was essentially the same design, but this time with deconstructivist detailing and signage theoretically more in keeping with the area. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "Arbiter of taste, enfant terrible: The best and worst of Philip Johnson," 6 Nov. 2018 The dress is a very different style from her first wedding dress, although the two shared similar shoulder detailing and incorporated symbols that were important to the couple and to Eugenie. The Editors, Marie Claire, "Princess Eugenie's Zac Posen Second Wedding Dress Was a Totally Different Look," 13 Oct. 2018 The declarations do not detail a process for reuniting families prior to deportation and says family residential centers where children and parents can be detained together have limitations. Kristina Davis,, "California federal judge orders separated children reunited with parents within 30 days," 27 June 2018 Joe's 2016 presidential campaign plans were detailed when Beau tragically died, but now the former Vice President has entered the 2020 race—with Jill's support. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Why Jill Biden Might Just Be Joe Biden's Greatest Political Asset," 25 Apr. 2019 Federal prosecutors detailed a more than $25 million scam to help wealthy families bribe their way into elite colleges. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Prominent Lawyer to Plead Guilty in College-Admissions Scandal," 5 Apr. 2019 The Department of Energy detailed that the EERE would receive $696 million, including $343 million in new funding, down from $2.3 billion the EERE requested from Congress in fiscal year 2019. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "President Trump Claimed Wind Turbines Cause Cancer and Attacked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal," 3 Apr. 2019 The renowned human rights attorney wore a navy blue one-shoulder jumpsuit by Stella McCartney that featured a black textured belt, pleated detailing, and pockets (!). Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Amal Clooney Just Wore the Coolest One-Shoulder Jumpsuit on the Red Carpet," 14 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detail.' 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 detail


1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for detail

Noun and Verb

French détail, from Old French detail slice, piece, from detaillier to cut in pieces, from de- + taillier to cut — more at tailor

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More Definitions for detail



English Language Learners Definition of detail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small part of something
: the small parts of something
: a particular fact or piece of information about something or someone



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

: to state particular facts or information about (something) : to describe or discuss the details of (something)
US : to thoroughly clean (a car) in an attempt to make it look new
formal : to choose (a person or group of people) to do a special job


de·​tail | \ di-ˈtāl How to pronounce detail (audio) , ˈdē-ˌtāl\

Kids Definition of detail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a dealing with something with attention to each item The news story went into detail.
2 : a small part of something larger : item Every detail of the wedding was perfect.
3 : a soldier or group of soldiers picked for special duty


detailed; detailing

Kids Definition of detail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to report with attention to each item The book detailed the events.
2 : to select for some special duty

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More from Merriam-Webster on detail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detail

Spanish Central: Translation of detail

Nglish: Translation of detail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detail for Arabic Speakers

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