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

If there are two distinct processes, further research could illuminate which one is active in relapse, and how to then modify treatment to address that nuance. Maya Miller, Scientific American, "Why It’s So Hard to Junk Bad Decisions—Edging Closer to Understanding “Sunk Cost”," 12 July 2018 Once they have been updated, those who have filed since the new requirements went into effect will need to modify the forms to include the new language. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Crackdown on Chain O' Lakes yields impaired boating arrests, citations," 8 July 2018 The light-sensing protein could lead to applications in everything from data storage to optogenetics, which allows scientists to manipulate genetically modified nerve cells with light. Shandria Sutton, Science | AAAS, "New ‘light-eating’ protein discovered in the Sea of Galilee," 5 July 2018 The research has shown that this lack of integrity protection can be exploited in certain circumstances using sophisticated radio equipment to modify user traffic. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "LTE wireless connections used by billions aren’t as secure as we thought," 29 June 2018 The board voted at a special meeting Thursday to modify the June 5 decision while keeping a focus on resurrecting Nathan Hale as a polling place, effective in 2019. Jesse Leavenworth, Courant Community, "Manchester Leaders Favor Polling Place Revival After Complaints," 22 June 2018 Opponents of the proposal, known as Initiative Petition 43, appealed to the Supreme Court to modify the ballot title. Hillary Borrud,, "Oregon Supreme Court decision could help gun control initiative," 8 June 2018 Blaming factors beyond anyone's control allows him to claim to feel empathy for the victims of his choices—but not the kind that might create any moral obligation to modify his beliefs accordingly. Jay Willis, GQ, "John Kelly's Xenophobia Is Showing Again," 11 May 2018 This finding implies different components of taste experiences are dissociable and can be independently modified, or even removed. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "A Matter of Taste: Can a Sweet Tooth Be Switched Off in the Brain?," 30 May 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

1 Sep 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).


to make amends

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