de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
designed; designing; designs

Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive design a system for tracking inventory
2a : to conceive and plan out in the mind he designed the perfect crime
b : to have as a purpose : intend she designed to excel in her studies
c : to devise for a specific function or end a book designed primarily as a college textbook a suitcase designed to hold a laptop computer
3 archaic : to indicate with a distinctive mark, sign, or name
4a : to make a drawing, pattern, or sketch of … a curious woman whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage …— Oscar Wilde
b : to draw the plans for design a building designing a new bike

intransitive verb

1 : to conceive or execute a plan
2 : to draw, lay out, or prepare a design was trained to design for homes and offices



Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a particular purpose or intention held in view by an individual or group He has ambitious designs for his son.
b : deliberate purposive planning more by accident than design
2 : a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down was never part of my design
3a : a deliberate undercover project or scheme : plot a declaration of a design upon his life— John Locke
b designs plural : aggressive or evil intent used with on or against he has designs on the money
4 : a preliminary sketch or outline showing the main features of something to be executed the design for the new stadium
5a : an underlying scheme that governs functioning, developing, or unfolding : pattern, motif the general design of the epic
b : a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (such as a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this
6 : the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work of art … his sense of structure, both in the general design of Paradise Lost and Samson, and in his syntax …— T. S. Eliot
7 : a decorative pattern a floral design
8 : the creative art of executing aesthetic or functional designs studied design in college

Other Words from design


designedly \ di-​ˈzī-​nəd-​lē How to pronounce design (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for design

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for design


intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain. intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about. announced his intention to marry intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness. the clear intent of the statute purpose suggests a more settled determination. being successful was her purpose in life design implies a more carefully calculated plan. the order of events came by accident, not design aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing. her aim was to raise film to an art form end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such. willing to use any means to achieve his end object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need. his constant object was the achievement of pleasure objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable. their objective is to seize the oil fields goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship. worked years to reach her goals

plan, design, plot, scheme, project mean a method devised for making or doing something or achieving an end. plan always implies mental formulation and sometimes graphic representation. plans for a house design often suggests a particular pattern and some degree of achieved order or harmony. a design for a new dress plot implies a laying out in clearly distinguished sections with attention to their relations and proportions. the plot of the play scheme stresses calculation of the end in view and may apply to a plan motivated by craftiness and self-interest. a scheme to defraud the government project often stresses imaginative scope and vision. a project to develop the waterfront

Examples of design in a Sentence

Verb A team of engineers designed the new engine. Who designed the book's cover? He designed the chair to adjust automatically. They thought they could design the perfect crime. design a strategy for battle Noun There are problems with the design of the airplane's landing gear. I like the design of the textbook. I love the sculpture's design. The machine had a flawed design. the design and development of new products Correcting mistakes is part of the design process. a number of design concepts See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bombardier decided instead to design a business jet with the same fuselage as the 7500, but with a higher cruise speed and range. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 23 May 2022 Start over with each platform, and design your creative assets with intention. Ira Belsky, Forbes, 3 May 2022 The teams design their outdoor spaces with dwindling budgets and rising pressure; Ty disrupts their plans right before judging. Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2022 Some Blackstone staff had hoped to design a vehicle for accredited investors with as little as about $1 million in net worth, one of the people said. Fortune, 20 Mar. 2022 Autoclaves that sterilize medical waste with steam provide further recycling opportunities, and manufacturers can design products with recycling in mind. Charles Schmidt, Scientific American, 7 Mar. 2022 Keen to root the property with a firm sense of place, the hotel tapped local Caribbean designer Michelle Leotaud to design the resort with deliberate and alluring pops of color. Rachel Dube, Travel + Leisure, 2 Mar. 2022 The new process doesn’t just allow the company to design smaller chips with more transistors. PCMAG, 17 Feb. 2022 Inuit elder Peter Kattuk was key in helping design the approach to SIKU, as well as Lucassie Arragutainaq, who has spent his career working to understand how Inuit knowledge and science can work together. Ashoka, Forbes, 9 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mashama, a robust design, uses environmentally friendly fabrics. Vogue, 24 June 2022 Find a fitting design for your space in these 22 DIY Garden Trellis Projects for All Your Climbing Plants and Flowers. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 24 June 2022 This printer takes up minimal space, has a nice aesthetic design, and comes in a few different colors, too. Douglas Helm, Popular Mechanics, 23 June 2022 Other iOS 16 features to look forward to, meanwhile, include a new notification design. Andy Meek, BGR, 23 June 2022 Expect the 2024 Accord's interior to adopt a similar design as the latest Civic and upcoming CR-V, both of which have a distinctive honeycomb texture for the air vents and a tablet-style touchscreen sitting atop the center of the dash. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, 23 June 2022 This is more than a few bits of tech and a noise reduction office design. Nancy Doyle, Forbes, 22 June 2022 There are also several mobile vendors peppered throughout the stadium, which has a clever and comfy design, as many entertainment and sports venues do now - see the new Orion Amphitheater in nearby Huntsville. Matt Wake |, al, 22 June 2022 Per Fernández de Kirchner, this bill had been in the works after Evita’s death in 1952, and a preliminary design survived the decades after a 1955 coup deposed Perón and proscribed Peronism, hidden behind a drawer in Argentina’s mint. Federico Perelmuter, The New Republic, 21 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of design


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for design

Verb and Noun

Middle English, to outline, indicate, mean, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French designer to designate, from Medieval Latin designare, from Latin, to mark out, from de- + signare to mark — more at sign

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Time Traveler for design

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The first known use of design was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for design


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \
designed; designing

Kids Definition of design

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to think up and plan out in the mind Our engineers have designed a new engine.
2 : to set apart for or have as a special purpose : intend The Web site is designed for fun.
3 : to make a pattern or sketch of She designs clothes.



Kids Definition of design (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an arrangement of parts in a structure or a work of art The design of the house suits a large family.
2 : the art or process of planning and creating something His job is Web page design.
3 : a sketch, model, or plan of something made or to be made Architects studied the design for the building.
4 : a decorative pattern
6 : a planned intention As if by design, they both stopped at the same spot …— Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee
7 : a secret purpose : plot I know you have designs on my money.


de·​sign | \ di-ˈzīn How to pronounce design (audio) \

Medical Definition of design

: a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something (especially a scientific experiment) also : the process of preparing this

Other Words from design

design transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on design

Nglish: Translation of design for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of design for Arabic Speakers


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