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

From here, modify the position slightly to create a wider (and more stable) base for your body. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Strengthen Your Core and Shoulders With Adriana Lima's Challenging Battle Rope Plank," 13 June 2018 Abbott soon modified his campaign website to remove the shotgun offer, and later changed it to the $250 gift card with no mention of a shotgun. Mike Ward, Houston Chronicle, "Abbott drops shotgun giveaway after Santa Fe school shooting," 21 May 2018 The city modified its permit terms on June 29, allowing Ofo and LimeBike, which also uses wheel locks, to continue operating 50 bikes each in the program. Mary Wisniewski,, "Ofo pulls its dockless bikes from Chicago because of locking rules," 9 July 2018 The debate over which approach to use rages because of the Trump administration’s policy, since modified, of separating children from parents when families illegally came into the U.S. at the southern border. Anthony Man,, "Fort Lauderdale mayor favors in-your-face confrontation of Trump officials," 3 July 2018 Under the law, Americans who finalize or modify divorce agreements in 2019 or later will no longer be able to deduct alimony payments from their taxes. New York Times, "‘Hurry Up and Get a Divorce’? For the Rich, There’s an Incentive," 2 July 2018 The Site may modify, suspend, discontinue or restrict the use of any portion of the Site, including the availability of any portion of the Content at any time, without notice or liability., "San Diego Union-Tribune Terms of Service," 25 June 2018 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

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

10 Nov 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).


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