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

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Other Words from develop

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for develop


acquire, cultivate, form



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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Who of global cities, since historically, many great cities have developed near oceans, natural harbors, or other bodies of water. Richard Florida, WIRED, "Climate Change Will Force the Poor From Their Homes," 13 July 2018 In fact, according to a press release, the Medipix was developed from technology created by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), used to detect particles in its Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Check Out These Awesome New 3D, Full-Color X-Rays," 13 July 2018 After decades of relying on the New Deal/Great Society playbook rather than working to craft a plan better suited to a changing economy, Democrats had developed a reputation for being reflexively antibusiness and pro-bureaucracy. Neil Swidey,, "How Democrats would be better off if Bill Clinton had never been president," 10 July 2018 Both gentlemen had developed their own separate reputations as singers and songwriters in the Mobile, Alabama area. Chuck Dauphin, Billboard, "Muscadine Bloodline on Working With Luke Laird & Why 'The Heartbeat Starts Pumping on the Road'," 10 July 2018 This iconic spot is where Noirmoutier first developed its reputation as a sunny seaside resort in the mid-19th century, and the Bois de la Chaise welcomed a new trend: good-for-your-health open water swimming. Mary Winston Nicklin, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Small Island Where the Tour de France Begins Is Actually a Vacationer's Paradise," 3 July 2018 Valenti has developed a reputation for shooting straight. George Stoia, Detroit Free Press, "Mike Valenti agrees to 'long-term contract' to stay at 97.1 The Ticket," 2 July 2018 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for develop

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for develop

The first known use of develop was in 1714

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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

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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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