mod·​i·​fy | \ ˈmä-də-ˌfī How to pronounce modify (audio) \
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 How to pronounce modify (audio) \ noun
modifiable \ ˈmä-​də-​ˌfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce modify (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for modify


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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 If a corner tightens up, just subtly curl the wrist and squeeze evenly on the wheel to modify the arc. Mark Ewing, Forbes, "Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo First Mountain Drive: Porsche’s Blisteringly Quick And Practical Sportwagen," 13 May 2021 Senate Rules Committee Chairman Amy Klobuchar’s own measure to modify the bill failed to advance after the committee, which is divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, deadlocked in a 9-9 vote. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell Spar Over Election Rules," 11 May 2021 In open session at 6 p.m., the council will consider denying a request to modify a retail tenant space to an office tenant space for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty at 330 S. Cedros Ave. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "On the agenda, May 9," 9 May 2021 Mearan's attorney, Michael Siewert of Siewert & Gjostein Co. LPA in Columbus, filed the motion to modify the terms of Mearan's house arrest on April 28. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Judge modifies Michael Mearan's house arrest after health 'visibly declined,' attorney says," 6 May 2021 Another 17 percent flat-out refused to modify their behavior. Robin Marantz Henig, The Atlantic, "Parents Set Rules for Their Kids. Grandparents Break Them.," 30 Apr. 2021 Mark Guilfoil, the agency’s vice president of supply management, said officials expected suppliers to modify their designs after durability tests, and the Postal Service also evaluated how suppliers resolved technical issues. Washington Post, "Push to electrify mail trucks gains wide support, an unlikely win for both DeJoy and Biden," 23 Apr. 2021 Once fetuses can be grown outside the womb, as in Huxley’s world, researchers will also be able to modify their growing environments to further influence what physical and behavioral qualities these parentless babies exhibit. Sahotra Sarkar, The Conversation, "Lab–grown embryos and human–monkey hybrids: Medical marvels or ethical missteps?," 22 Apr. 2021 The Federal Communications Commission gave SpaceX permission to modify an existing license for its Starlink broadband service, which will enable it to increase the number of satellites in a lower Earth orbital slot to 4,408 in total. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "SpaceX gets OK for modified satellite orbits despite space safety concerns from Viasat, others," 27 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for modify

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for modify

Last Updated

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Modify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce modify (audio) \
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 How to pronounce modify (audio) \
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 How to pronounce modify (audio) \ noun, plural modifiabilities
modifiable \ -​ˈfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce modify (audio) \ adjective

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