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 At a convention center in Springfield, Ill., a taxidermist describes his job with the kind of passionate language that composers or painters might use to describe theirs. Jeremy Mccarter, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2021 If the man’s story doesn’t ring a bell for Sopranos fans, it’s because David never told it directly (and, on the advice of his lawyer, uses a pseudonym to describe him). Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture, 27 Sep. 2021 The petition to the Commerce Department seeking higher import tariffs was filed by an anonymous group of companies that describe themselves as U.S.-based solar manufacturers attempting to combat unfair Chinese competition. Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2021 But to describe it as merely another commodity chemicals producer misses the point entirely. Erik Kobayashi-solomon, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 But its very ubiquity meant that Greek authors did little to describe it, relying instead on their readers’ familiarity. James Romm, The New York Review of Books, 23 Sep. 2021 The lowest acceptance rates were among Hispanic Protestants and white evangelicals, among whom just over half of adherents describe themselves as favorable toward the vaccine. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2021 MacDonough’s decision was described by a person informed about the ruling who would describe it only on condition of anonymity. Alan Fram, USA TODAY, 20 Sep. 2021 The Camino, despite my best efforts here to describe it, is fundamentally an ineffable experience, and a highly personal one as well. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 16 Sep. 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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Learn More About describe

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

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Describe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 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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