mod·i·fy | \ˈmä-də-ˌfī \
modified; modifying

Definition of modify 

transitive verb

1 : to make less extreme : moderate traffic rules were modified to let him pass— Van Wyck Brooks

2a : 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

3a : 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

intransitive verb

: to undergo change

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Other Words from modify

modifiability \ˌmä-də-ˌfī-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
modifiable \ˈmä-də-ˌfī-ə-bəl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of modify in a Sentence

We can help you modify an existing home or build a new one. He modified the recipe by using oil instead of butter. She has modified her views on the matter. The design was modified to add another window. We played a modified version of our favorite game. Adjectives usually modify nouns, and adverbs usually modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. In the phrase “a red hat,” the adjective “red” modifies the noun “hat.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

The cars had been modified for a handful of kids who have difficulties standing or walking independently, to give them a chance to be mobile and independent. Tessa Weinberg,, "Northwestern students give 'freedom' by retrofitting motorized cars for kids with disabilities," 1 July 2018 About a month ago, company officials said, that work station was modified so that robots move the seats into place and workers handle bolts and the fitting of delicate electronic connectors. Neal E. Boudette, New York Times, "Can Elon Musk and Tesla Reinvent the Way Cars Are Made?," 30 June 2018 The 747 jumbo jets are modified to include special characteristics, including a self-defense system, a communications suite and other structural changes designed to protect the president and others for extended periods of time. Samantha Masunaga,, "Harley-Davidson is just the latest U.S. company to weather a Trump tweet storm," 27 June 2018 Corrections & Amplifications The chart showing year-to-date returns has been modified to correct the figures for investment-grade and Treasury bonds. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Junk Debt Is Outdoing Its Peers," 25 June 2018 Neither processors nor operating systems have been modified in response. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak," 25 June 2018 Her stories were always modified just enough to add to their interest and make Herb laugh at their memory., "Deaths in South Florida: 6/24," 24 June 2018 This story has been modified to reflect that the ad has not yet aired on Fox. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Moroun TV ad asks Trump to pick America, reject Gordie Howe bridge," 20 June 2018 By contrast, rates on adjustable-rate mortgages are modified annually. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "How a Fed rate hike could impact credit cards, mortgages, savings rates," 13 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of modify

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

History and Etymology for modify

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

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Statistics for modify

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for modify

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

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More Definitions for modify



English Language Learners Definition of modify

: 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)


mod·i·fy | \ˈmä-də-ˌfī \
modified; modifying

Kids Definition of modify

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.”

mod·i·fy | \ˈmäd-ə-ˌfī \
modified; modifying

Medical Definition of modify 

: to make a change in modify behavior by the use of drugs

Other Words from modify

modifiability \ˌmäd-ə-ˌfī-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē \ noun plural -ties
modifiable \-ˈfī-ə-bəl \ adjective

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Comments on modify

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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