de·​scribe | \ di-ˈskrīb How to pronounce describe (audio) \
described; describing

Definition of describe

transitive verb

1 : to represent or give an account of in words describe a picture The police asked her to describe the thief. There were so many things he wanted to describe— James Joyce
2 : to represent by a figure, model, or picture : delineate described in her paintings what she saw from her window
3 obsolete : distribute
4 : to trace or traverse the outline of describe a circle
5 archaic : observe, perceive

Other Words from describe

describable \ di-​ˈskrī-​bə-​bəl How to pronounce describe (audio) \ adjective
describer noun

Examples of describe in a Sentence

The witness wasn't able to describe the robber. He described the house in perfect detail. The article describes how the experiment was done. She described watching dolphins play beside the ship. Please describe what happened next. Can you describe the lost dog to me? She used a stick to describe a circle on the ground. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Other allegations describe unsanitary conditions caused by inadequate clothing, underwear, bedding, and toilets. Armando Garcia, ABC News, 6 Aug. 2022 The filings describe plans to build a series of 14 direct air capture projects over the next 15 years at two sites, one outside Odessa and the other in Riviera. Nicholas Kusnetz, San Antonio Express-News, 6 Aug. 2022 Sources close to the project describe a complicated and delicate backstory to the situation. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Aug. 2022 Accounts from three former prisoners held in the camp from early April to early July describe grim conditions, including torture, overcrowded cells and lice infestations. James Marson, WSJ, 5 Aug. 2022 Sufferers describe the pain as a constant dull ache that has persisted over a prolonged period. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 4 Aug. 2022 Colleagues describe him as a savvy manager, polished and unflappable. Clay Chandler, Fortune, 4 Aug. 2022 Some Democrats and their allies, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, describe it as a corporate giveaway., 3 Aug. 2022 Some Democrats and their allies, like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, describe it as a corporate giveaway. New York Times, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'describe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of describe

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for describe

Middle English, from Latin describere, from de- + scribere to write — more at scribe

Learn More About describe

Time Traveler for describe

Time Traveler

The first known use of describe was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near describe




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for describe

Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for describe


de·​scribe | \ di-ˈskrīb How to pronounce describe (audio) \
described; describing

Kids Definition of describe

1 : to write or tell about Describe what you saw.
2 : to draw the outline of First, describe a circle.

More from Merriam-Webster on describe

Nglish: Translation of describe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of describe for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!