define

If you can't define a word, turn to the dictionary. That's always the best way to learn the definition. Likewise, anything you can describe completely is something you can define.

The early French and Latin roots of the verb mean something closer to "to limit" or "to create a boundary," but this is really what we do when we define something: we limit its meaning to something specific. So when you're thinking about the word define, remember that you're looking to create a boundary of meaning around it, whether you're specifying the meaning of a word or a larger concept. To define a word such as astronomy is to define both the word and the realm of science that it's concerned with.

Definitions of define
1

v show the form or outline of

“The tree was clearly defined by the light”
“The camera could define the smallest object”
Synonyms:
delineate
Type of:
show
make visible or noticeable

v determine the essential quality of

Synonyms:
delimit, delimitate, delineate, specify
Types:
determine
fix in scope; fix the boundaries of
redefine
give a new or different definition to
nail down, narrow, narrow down, peg down, pin down, specify
define clearly
Type of:
be
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v determine the nature of

“What defines a good wine?”
Type of:
characterise, characterize
be characteristic of

v decide upon or fix definitely

Synonyms:
determine, fix, limit, set, specify
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
quantify
use as a quantifier
name
mention and identify by name
reset
set anew
redefine
give a new or different definition of (a word)
Type of:
choose, pick out, select, take
pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives

v give a definition for the meaning of a word

Define `sadness'”
Types:
redefine
give a new or different definition of (a word)
Type of:
determine, fix, limit, set, specify
decide upon or fix definitely

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