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

Essential Meaning of design

1 : to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created) : to create the plans, drawings, etc., that show how (something) will be made A team of engineers designed the new engine. a badly designed building See More ExamplesShe designs clothes. Who designed the book's cover?Hide
2 : to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose He designed the chair to adjust automatically.
3 : to think of (something, such as a plan) : to plan (something) in your mind They thought they could design the perfect crime. design a strategy for battle

Full 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Raines and Heffernan decided to design their own service projects with age-appropriate activities. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 Jan. 2022 This year, Innovation Academy opened to freshmen and 45 students had the opportunity to design a park with the city (eight are pictured above). Tom Vander Ark, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 The idea is to design products with circularity in mind. Harris Quinn, Wired, 28 Dec. 2021 So why not design more bathrooms with accessibility in mind? Shasta Kearns Moore | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 27 Dec. 2021 This system allowed the Antikythera makers to mount several gears on the same plate and design them to precisely match the period relations. Tony Freeth, Scientific American, 15 Dec. 2021 Boniadi, who is British, Iranian, and American, wanted to design something with Taghi that spoke to the issues affecting Iranian women (the two had previously collaborated on a charity project). Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 7 Dec. 2021 Pernod Ricard fostered trust in its algorithms by using business experts to design them, and by gathering extensive feedback from the first users. Michael Chu, Fortune, 5 Nov. 2021 This low-slung house with raw stone walls, shallow roofs, deep overhangs and artisan furniture is a massive tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, although Wright did not design it. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, 31 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Course topics will include site assessment, soil analysis, design, construction, plant selection, mulching, and maintenance. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 18 Jan. 2022 Right now, though, dozens of companies are using Unity to create digital twins of robots, manufacturing lines, buildings, and even wind turbines to virtually design, operate, monitor, optimize, and train them. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 18 Jan. 2022 And for a show-stopping shoe that will be sure to make a statement in your wardrobe, don't miss out on The Dove slides in a floral sequin design, which are 64 percent off, bringing their price down to just $60., 14 Jan. 2022 The greater concern is what this may mean for its next-generation lithium ion battery cells, which utilize a simpler design, a larger shape sporting a new 46x80 mm form factor, and quicker production methods. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 14 Jan. 2022 The design for the memory wall within the World Forge harkens back to Zhao’s first pitch. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 13 Jan. 2022 But the experience is largely similar otherwise, with the same robust app library, a comparable design, and most of the same core health monitoring tools for sleep and exercise, all at a much lower cost. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, 12 Jan. 2022 The shoes are a refresh of a '90s-era design from the Italian fashion house's archives. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 11 Jan. 2022 That is, multi-ability, multigenerational, inclusive co-living, or communities where young and old, families and singles, live side by side, supported by inclusive design, technology and neighbors. Clare Ansberry, WSJ, 10 Jan. 2022

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near design




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Statistics for design

Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Design.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 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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