de·vel·op | \di-ˈvel-əp, dē-\

Definition of develop 

transitive verb

1a : to set forth or make clear by degrees or in detail : expound develop a thesis

b : to make visible or manifest developed the scene in her mind

c dyeing : to treat with an agent to cause the appearance of color

d photography : to subject (exposed material) especially to chemicals in order to produce a visible image develop film also : to make visible by such a method develop pictures

e : to elaborate (a musical idea) by the working out of rhythmic and harmonic changes in the theme (see theme sense 4)

2a : to work out the possibilities of develop an idea

b : to create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time develop new ways of doing business develop software

3a : to make active or promote the growth of developed his muscles developing your mental abilities

b(1) : to make available or usable develop natural resources

(2) : to make suitable for commercial or residential purposes develop land

c games : to move (a chess piece) from the original position to one providing more opportunity for effective use develop the rook

4a : to cause to evolve or unfold gradually : to lead or conduct (something) through a succession of states or changes each of which is preparatory for the next developed his argument

b : to expand by a process of growth working to develop the company further

c biology : to cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind more rain will be needed to develop the plants properly

d : to become infected or affected by developed pneumonia

5 : to acquire gradually develop an appreciation for ballet

intransitive verb

1 biology

a : to go through a process of natural growth, differentiation (see differentiation sense 3), or evolution by successive changes A blossom develops from a bud.

b : to acquire secondary sex characteristics the year that her breasts fully developed

2 : to become gradually manifest the facts that developed over the next few days

3 : to come into being gradually the situation developing in eastern Europe also : turn out sense 2a it developed that no one had paid the bill

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from develop

developable \-ˈve-lə-pə-bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for develop


acquire, cultivate, form



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of develop in a Sentence

She has been exercising regularly to develop her back muscles. The story was later developed into a novel. The island has developed its economy around tourism. The course is designed to develop your writing skills. A blossom develops from a bud. The doctor says that the child is developing normally. In this class, we will be learning about how languages develop. Scientists are developing a treatment for the disease. The company has developed a new method for recycling old tires. He develops the concept more fully in his book.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But samples are still in storage, and bioterrorism experts say some governments, including the former Soviet Union, have in the past worked to develop the virus into a biological weapon. NBC News, "Now there's a drug to treat smallpox, just in case," 13 July 2018 The Wall Street Journal is developing a ranking of M.B.A. programs in a partnership with Times Higher Education, a publisher based in London. Kelsey Gee, WSJ, "Temple University Fires a Dean Over Falsified M.B.A. Rankings Data," 13 July 2018 Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers Once planned as a Tim Horton's, this property at 3818 Race Road in Green Township is instead being developed as a Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers. Jennie Key,, "Lots of options: West Siders have eat-out options and more are coming," 13 July 2018 Crinetics is developing oral therapies for rare gland diseases. Mike Freeman,, "Venture capital surges for San Diego County startups in second quarter," 12 July 2018 At the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, researchers led by Ryan O'Hayre are developing button-size reverse fuel cells. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 Now, companies around the world are developing flying cars. CBS News, ""From impossible to inevitable": Developers give first look at new flying car," 12 July 2018 Toyota has also invested in Japan Taxi, Japan’s Uber rival, and is also working with Amazon to develop a self-driving shuttle. Brittany Shoot, Fortune, "Toyota Launches a Car-Sharing Subscription Service for Hawaii," 11 July 2018 Hired in December 2015 to work on Apple's project to develop hardware and software for self-driving or autonomous vehicles, Zhang took paternity leave during April and traveled with his family to China, according to the complaint. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Nabbed at airport, ex-Apple engineer was fleeing with secrets to self-driving cars, FBI says," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'develop.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of develop

1714, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for develop

French développer, from Old French desveloper, desvoluper to unwrap, expose, from des- de- + envoloper to enclose — more at envelop

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about develop

Statistics for develop

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for develop

The first known use of develop was in 1714

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for develop



English Language Learners Definition of develop

: to cause (something) to grow or become bigger or more advanced

: to grow or become bigger or more advanced

: to create (something) over a period of time


de·vel·op | \di-ˈve-ləp \
developed; developing

Kids Definition of develop

1 : to make or become plain little by little : unfold From the microscopic point of Boone's pencil there developed a most amazing scene.— Lynne Reid Banks, The Indian in the Cupboard

2 : to apply chemicals to exposed photographic material (as a film) in order to bring out the picture

3 : to bring out the possibilities of : improve develop an idea

4 : to make more available or usable develop land

5 : to begin to have gradually develop a cough

6 : to begin to exist or be present gradually A romance developed between them.

7 : to create over time develop new medicines

8 : to grow or cause to grow bigger, more mature, or more advanced He's developing his muscles with exercise.

Other Words from develop

developer noun


transitive verb
de·vel·op | \di-ˈvel-əp \

Medical Definition of develop 

1a : to make active or promote the growth of developed their muscles by weight lifting

b : to cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind the zygote is gradually developed into the adult plant or animal

2 : to become infected or affected by developed pneumonia

intransitive verb

1 : to go through a process of natural growth, differentiation, or evolution by successive stages the fever develops normally the embryo develops into a well-formed human being

2 : to acquire secondary sex characteristics she is developing rapidly for a girl of 12

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on develop

What made you want to look up develop? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!