de·​ter·​mine | \di-ˈtər-mən, dē-\
determined; determining

Definition of determine 

transitive verb

1a : to fix conclusively or authoritatively determine national policy

b law : to decide by judicial sentence determine a plea

c : to settle or decide by choice of alternatives or possibilities trying to determine the best time to go

d : resolve she determined to do better

2a : to fix the form, position, or character of beforehand : ordain two points determine a straight line the extent to which genetics determines one's personality

b : to bring about as a result : regulate demand determines the price

3a : to fix the boundaries of

b : to limit in extent or scope

c : to put or set an end to : terminate determine an estate

4 : to find out or come to a decision about by investigation, reasoning, or calculation determine the answer to the problem determine a position at sea

5 biology : to bring about the determination (see determination sense 7) of determine the fate of a cell

intransitive verb

1 : to come to a decision had determined on becoming a doctor

2 : to come to an end or become void

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Choose the Right Synonym for determine

decide, determine, settle, rule, resolve mean to come or cause to come to a conclusion. decide implies previous consideration of a matter causing doubt, wavering, debate, or controversy. she decided to sell her house determine implies fixing the identity, character, scope, or direction of something. determined the cause of the problem settle implies a decision reached by someone with power to end all dispute or uncertainty. the dean's decision settled the campus alcohol policy rule implies a determination by judicial or administrative authority. the judge ruled that the evidence was inadmissible resolve implies an expressed or clear decision or determination to do or refrain from doing something. he resolved to quit smoking

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know. discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter. discovered the source of the river ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty. attempts to ascertain the population of the region determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely. unable to determine the origin of the word unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden. unearth old records learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice. I learned her name only today learning Greek

Examples of determine in a Sentence

The new policy will be determined by a special committee. The demand for a product determines its price. He believes that one's personality is determined mostly by genetics. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. They are unable to accurately determine the ship's position at this time. Scholars have determined that the book was written in the late 16th century. I am trying to determine what happened and when. They are determining if they should stay. They determined to leave immediately.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Scientists can determine migration patterns by measuring strontium isotope ratios in tooth enamel, which forms in early childhood. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 Where the rest of the budget will be allocated has not yet been determined. Sonja Peteranderl, The Verge, "Bavaria’s space program shot to viral fame — but it may be in trouble," 20 Oct. 2018 Though plans were initially drawn up for a replacement yacht, the government ultimately determined not to fund the effort. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The Story Behind the Royal Family's Yacht, Britannia," 30 Sep. 2018 But the medical examiner could not determine if strangulation or blunt force caused George's death. Fox News, "Texas inmate executed for 2000 killing of girlfriend," 28 Sep. 2018 But exactly how meditation leads to these changes hasn’t been determined. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Meditation Can—and Can’t—Do for Your Health," 11 Sep. 2018 These jobs don’t just determine the game’s mechanics, though. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "In Octopath Traveler, jobs define more than just gameplay mechanics," 22 Aug. 2018 But one day, the government hopes to store all the nuclear waste from the U.S. in a central repository ( since few states want to host the country’s toxic nuclear waste underneath their land, the location hasn’t been determined yet). Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Can Nuclear Waste Survive a 14,500 Mile Journey?," 4 Aug. 2018 Most trauma survivors struggle with post-traumatic stress symptoms in the wake of horrific events, but about two thirds of them also report their lives are better, which researchers have determined is post-traumatic growth. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for determine

Middle English, from Anglo-French determiner, from Latin determinare, from de- + terminare to limit, from terminus boundary, limit — more at term entry 1

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Learn More about determine

Statistics for determine

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for determine

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

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More Definitions for determine



English Language Learners Definition of determine

: to officially decide (something) especially because of evidence or facts : to establish (something) exactly or with authority

: to be the cause of or reason for (something)

: to learn or find out (something) by getting information


de·​ter·​mine | \di-ˈtər-mən \
determined; determining

Kids Definition of determine

1 : to come to a decision They determined to leave immediately.

2 : to learn or find out exactly Police determined the cause of the accident.

3 : to be the cause of or reason for Demand determines the price of a product.

4 : to fix exactly and with certainty Yes, it was settled; his career was determined.— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer


transitive verb
de·​ter·​mine | \di-ˈtər-mən \
determined; determining\-​ˈtərm-​(ə-​)niŋ \

Medical Definition of determine 

1a : to obtain definite information about with regard to quantity, character, magnitude, or location determine the ionic concentration determine the creatinine in blood serum

b : to discover the taxonomic position or the generic and specific names of

2 : to bring about the determination of determine the fate of a cell

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transitive verb
determined; determining

Legal Definition of determine 

: to make a determination regarding

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Comments on determine

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to enclose within walls

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