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 The council approved a request to modify the façade of the former Atlas Market building and nearby storefront spaces of the Twin Peaks Plaza shopping center on Pomerado Road. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "How they voted, Oct. 11," 11 Oct. 2020 Though there was ample debate over how to modify the solemn services for outdoors, the experience of worshipping in the public space was hailed as uplifting and inclusive. Joshua Mitnick, The Christian Science Monitor, "In divided Israel, desert town models a united front against virus," 8 Oct. 2020 Supporters argue it’s too easy under the current system to modify the constitution by ballot initiative and that those changes should be the job of the Florida Legislature and governor anyway., "Florida Constitution amendments on Nov. 3 ballot: What they do, pro and con," 30 Sep. 2020 Macy's teamed up with City of New York to modify the parade. Selena Barrientos, House Beautiful, "Here's How to Watch and Stream the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," 28 Sep. 2020 During testimony before lawmakers last month, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy discussed the need to modify the agency’s organizational structure, but noted that plans were on hold until after Election Day. Fox News, "Pennsylvania judge halts USPS cuts ahead of 2020 election amid mail-in voting worries," 28 Sep. 2020 But there are legal limits to a trial court’s authority to modify child support awards. Donna Engle,, "Legal Matters: Unemployed parents must continue to pay child support," 26 Sep. 2020 In a 2018 paper, David Orentlicher, a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas’s law school, suggests three additional ways to modify the court’s structure and procedures to guarantee its ideological balance. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Three ways to make the Supreme Court less partisan," 22 Sep. 2020 For many 8-bit computers, early POKErs could load games into memory and, before launching them, modify specific memory addresses in order to cheat. David Silverberg, Popular Mechanics, "Game Breaking: How Cheat Codes Changed Video Games Forever," 27 Sep. 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

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Modify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 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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