de·​ter·​mi·​nate | \di-ˈtər-mə-nət \

Definition of determinate 

1 : having defined limits a determinate period of time

2 : definitely settled a determinate order of precedence

3 : conclusively determined : definitive a determinate answer

4 botany : characterized by sequential flowering from the central or uppermost bud to the lateral or basal (see basal sense 1b) buds also : characterized by growth in which the main stem ends in an inflorescence and stops growing with only branches from the main stem having further and similarly restricted growth determinate tomato plants — compare indeterminate sense 4

5 biology : relating to, being, or undergoing egg cleavage (see cleavage sense 3) in which each division irreversibly separates portions of the zygote with specific potencies for further development

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Other Words from determinate

determinately adverb
determinateness noun

Examples of determinate in a Sentence

a determinate period of time a determinate order of succession to the throne

Recent Examples on the Web

Florida Weave Used commercially for determinate varieties, this training technique supports tomatoes with twine woven horizontally between rows of stakes. Doug Hall, Good Housekeeping, "The 4 Best Ways to Support Your Tomato Plants," 19 July 2018 On a truly determinate tomato, flowers occur at the ends of branches and will all be about the same size at the same time. Walter Reeves, ajc, "Invasive stiltgrass loves moisture and shade," 13 June 2018 This is because nature is not simple and determinate. Joseph Franklin, Scientific American, "Suicide Prediction Remains Difficult Despite Decades of Research," 11 June 2018 Florida Weave Used commercially for determinate varieties, this training technique supports tomatoes with twine woven horizontally between rows of stakes. Doug Hall, Good Housekeeping, "The 4 Best Ways To Support Your Tomatoes," 2 Sep. 2016 Some of the Early Girl varieties are indeterminate (that is, growing tall and needing a cage or stake), but most of the other earlies are determinate (low-growing and potentially sprawling). Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "It’s possible to grow more than you’d expect in a small space," 10 Jan. 2018 Soon the court will have a chance to make a determinate decision on the Blaine amendments. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Will the Supreme Court’s Trinity decision lead to the spread of school voucher programs?," 26 June 2017

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for determinate

Middle English, from Latin determinatus, past participle of determinare — see determine

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Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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

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English Language Learners Definition of determinate

: definitely known or decided


de·​ter·​mi·​nate | \di-ˈtərm-(ə-)nət \

Medical Definition of determinate 

: relating to, being, or undergoing determinate cleavage a determinate egg

More from Merriam-Webster on determinate

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Britannica English: Translation of determinate for Arabic Speakers

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a private place of worship

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