verb mod·i·fy \ ˈmä-də-ˌfī \
|Updated on: 4 Aug 2018

Definition of modify

modified; modifying
1 : to make less extreme : moderate
  • traffic rules were modified to let him pass
  • —Van Wyck Brooks
2 a : to limit or restrict the meaning of especially in a grammatical construction
  • In the phrase "the red hat," the adjective "red" modifies the noun "hat."
b : to change (a vowel) by umlaut
3 a : to make minor changes in
  • had to modify his plan
b : to make basic or fundamental changes in often to give a new orientation to or to serve a new end
  • the wing of a bird is an arm modified for flying
: to undergo change


play \ˌmä-də-ˌfī-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun


play \ˈmä-də-ˌfī-ə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of modify in a Sentence

  1. We can help you modify an existing home or build a new one.

  2. He modified the recipe by using oil instead of butter.

  3. She has modified her views on the matter.

  4. The design was modified to add another window.

  5. We played a modified version of our favorite game.

  6. Adjectives usually modify nouns, and adverbs usually modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

  7. In the phrase “a red hat,” the adjective “red” modifies the noun “hat.”

Recent Examples of modify from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of modify

Middle English modifien, from Anglo-French modifier, from Latin modificare to measure, moderate, from modus

Synonym Discussion of modify

change, alter, vary, modify mean to make or become different. change implies making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another.
    • changed the shirt for a larger size
alter implies a difference in some particular respect without suggesting loss of identity.
    • slightly altered the original design
vary stresses a breaking away from sameness, duplication, or exact repetition.
    • vary your daily routine
modify suggests a difference that limits, restricts, or adapts to a new purpose.
    • modified the building for use by the disabled

MODIFY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of modify for English Language Learners

  • : to change some parts of (something) while not changing other parts

  • grammar : to limit or describe the meaning of (a word or group of words)

MODIFY Defined for Kids


verb mod·i·fy \ ˈmä-də-ˌfī \

Definition of modify for Students

modified; modifying
1 : to make changes in
  • modify a plan
2 : to lower or reduce in amount or scale
  • In a little while familiarity modified their fears …
  • —Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
3 : to limit in meaning : qualify
  • The word “green” in the phrase “green gloves” modifies the word “gloves.”

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb mod·i·fy \ ˈmäd-ə-ˌfī \

medical Definition of modify

modified; modifying
: to make a change in
  • modify behavior by the use of drugs


play \ˌmäd-ə-ˌfī-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē\ noun, plural -ties


play \-ˈfī-ə-bəl\ adjective

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