define[dē fīn′, di-]
- The definition of define is to describe the meaning or character of something.
- An example of define is when you tell someone what a word means.
- An example of define is when you set clear rules for living in your house.
transitive verbdefined, defining
- to determine or set down the boundaries of
- to trace the precise outlines of; delineate
- to determine or state the extent and nature of; describe exactly: define your duties
- to give the distinguishing characteristics of
- to constitute the distinction of; differentiate: reason defines man
- to state the meaning or meanings of (as a word)
Origin of defineMiddle English diffinen ; from Old French definer and amp; Medieval Latin diffinire, both ; from Classical Latin definire, to limit, define ; from de-, from + finire, to set a limit to, bound: see finish
verbde·fined, de·fin·ing, de·fines
- a. To state the precise meaning of (a word or sense of a word, for example).b. To describe the nature or basic qualities of; explain: define the properties of a new drug; a study that defines people according to their median incomes.
- a. To make clear the outline or form of; delineate: gentle hills that were defined against the sky.b. To specify distinctly: define the weapons to be used in limited warfare.
- To give form or meaning to: “For him, a life is defined by action” (Jay Parini).
Origin of defineMiddle English definen, diffinen, from Old French definir, diffiner, from Latin dēfīnīre, to limit, determine : dē-, intensive pref.; see de– + fīnis, boundary, limit.
(third-person singular simple present defines, present participle defining, simple past and past participle defined)
- To determine with precision; to mark out with distinctness; to ascertain or exhibit clearly.
- the defining power of an optical instrument
- To express the essential nature of something.
- I define myself as a techno-anarchist.
- To state the meaning of a word, phrase, sign, or symbol.
- The textbook defined speed as velocity divided by time.
- To describe, explain, or make definite and clear.
- To demark sharply the outlines or limits of an area or concept.
- to define the legal boundaries of a property
- (mathematics) To establish the referent of a term or notation.