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 modifiability (audio) \ noun
modifiable \ ˈmä-​də-​ˌfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce modifiable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for modify


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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 Both Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert will have their source code released under the General Public License, giving users freedom to modify the code as open-source content. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Doom Eternal Will Drop Its Controversial Anti-Cheat Software," 22 May 2020 Large gatherings are still prohibited by the state, and the city said there was no way to modify the celebration and oversee safety precautions needed to stop the possible spread of the virus. Teri Webster, Dallas News, "Richardson cancels this year’s Family 4th of July Celebration," 21 May 2020 Here’s a reality check While promising to review requests to modify the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom remains loath to give a specific date. Los Angeles Times, "California reopening begins Friday: Here is what it is going to look like," 7 May 2020 Trisha Behrens, a former Bexar County detention deputy, has advocated for the state to modify the parole hold procedures, especially in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Emilie Eaton,, "‘I don’t want to die in here:’ San Antonio inmates urge local, state officials to rethink parole guidelines as coronavirus spreads," 2 May 2020 Other researchers say IAPV’s ability to modify the bees’ behavior to get from hive to hive might also increase the spread of additional threats. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Honey Bee Virus Tricks Hive Guards Into Admitting Sick Intruders," 30 Apr. 2020 Alternatively, a faster and more scalable approach is to modify existing cars or trucks. Justin Adams, The Conversation, "Robots are playing many roles in the coronavirus crisis – and offering lessons for future disasters," 22 Apr. 2020 Escaping an antibiotic might only require a microbe to modify the shape of a protein so a drug no longer affects it. Katherine J. Wu, Popular Science, "Fight viruses in your home without making bacteria stronger," 4 Apr. 2020 How to describe the ways chronic pain has forced her to modify her life? Akilah Johnson, ProPublica, "Medicaid Abruptly Canceled Her Health Insurance. Then Came the Coronavirus.," 25 Mar. 2020

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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Modify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for modify


How to pronounce modify (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on modify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for modify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with modify

Spanish Central: Translation of modify

Nglish: Translation of modify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of modify for Arabic Speakers

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