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. verb
    show the form or outline of
    “The tree was clearly defined by the light”
    “The camera could define the smallest object”
    synonyms: delineate
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    type of:
    show
    make visible or noticeable
  2. verb
    determine the essential quality of
    synonyms: delimit, delimitate, delineate, specify
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    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)
  3. verb
    determine the nature of
    “What defines a good wine?”
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    type of:
    characterise, characterize
    be characteristic of
  4. verb
    decide upon or fix definitely
    synonyms: determine, fix, limit, set, specify
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    types:
    show 4 types...
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    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
  5. verb
    give a definition for the meaning of a word
    Define `sadness'”
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    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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