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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Interrogators there used techniques that many describe as torture. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, 12 Sep. 2021 His mother, Tania Barrero, died in May, a relationship people close to Barrero describe as almost brother and sister. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 11 Sep. 2021 Chinese media has been at pains to describe Kris Wu, the superstar actor and former K-pop star who was recently arrested following rape allegations, as Canadian. Vivienne Chow, Variety, 6 Sep. 2021 In the future, researchers may be less and less inclined to describe any of the noncoding sequences as junk because there are so many other more precise ways of labeling them now. Quanta Magazine, 1 Sep. 2021 President Bush, in his speeches following Sept. 11, went out of his way to describe Islam as a religion of peace, portraying the perpetrators of the attacks as outliers. New York Times, 1 Sep. 2021 Native American leaders and community members have repeatedly called on the U.S. government to take accountability for these family separations, which historians describe as part of efforts to break up tribal control of territory. Julia Barajas, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Aug. 2021 The plan from Yes 4 Minneapolis, however, has drawn opposition – including from Operation Safety Now, which leaders describe as a grassroots movement of residents concerned about public safety. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, 19 Aug. 2021 The Biden national security team has been holding calls and meetings Thursday with what sources describe as a growing sense of urgency about the accelerating Taliban gains in Afghanistan. Jennifer Hansler, CNN, 12 Aug. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for describe

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near describe




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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for describe



English Language Learners Definition of describe

: to tell someone the appearance, sound, smell, events, etc., of (something or someone) : to say what something or someone is like
: to make a motion or draw a line that shows the shape of (something)


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


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