To design is to conceive, create, sketch out, or invent something. An architect might design a new apartment building, and an inventor might design a new smart phone.

Charles Eames, famous designer of fancy modern chairs, said "Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose." That's a broad definition, but then again, design is a broad field. School kids design book report posters, engineers design bridges, and politicians design arguments against their opponents. If you really want to explore design, take some time to examine the expert layout of a Picasso painting.

Primary Meanings of design

the act of working out the form of something (as by making a sketch or outline or plan)
make or work out a plan for; devise
the creation of something in the mind
conceive or fashion in the mind; invent
Full Definitions of design

n the act of working out the form of something (as by making a sketch or outline or plan)

“he contributed to the design of a new instrument”
the act or process of drawing up plans or layouts for some project or enterprise
city planning, town planning, urban planning
determining and drawing up plans for the future physical arrangement and condition of a community
Type of:
creating by mental acts
the act of creating something by thinking

n an arrangement scheme

“the awkward design of the keyboard made operation difficult”
“it was an excellent design for living”
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configuration, constellation
an arrangement of parts or elements
a plan or design of something that is laid out
snare, trap
something (often something deceptively attractive) that catches you unawares
hotel plan, meal plan
a plan and a room rate for providing a room and meals to guests at a hotel
(electronics) a system design that duplicates components to provide alternatives in case one component fails
network topology, topology
the configuration of a communication network
chunking, unitisation, unitization
(psychology) the configuration of smaller units of information into large coordinated units
iron trap
a trap from which there is no escape
speed trap
a trap arranged on a roadway for catching speeders
American plan
a hotel plan that includes three meals daily
Bermuda plan
a hotel plan that provides a full breakfast daily
European plan, continental plan
a hotel plan that provides a continental breakfast daily
Type of:
arrangement, organisation, organization, system
an organized structure for arranging or classifying

n a preliminary sketch indicating the plan for something

“the design of a building”
Type of:
sketch, study
preliminary drawing for later elaboration

n something intended as a guide for making something else

blueprint, pattern
Type of:
plan, program, programme
a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished

n a decorative or artistic work

“the coach had a design on the doors”
figure, pattern
Great Seal of the United States
the seal of the United States government
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argyle, argyll
a design consisting of a pattern of varicolored diamonds on a solid background (originally for knitted articles); patterned after the tartan of a clan in western Scotland
bear claw
an incised design resembling the claw of a bear; used in Native American pottery
a design produced by inlaying gold or silver into steel
decal, decalcomania
either a design that is fixed to some surface or a paper bearing the design which is to be transferred to the surface
any ornamental pattern or design (as in embroidery)
special design or visual object representing a quality, type, group, etc.
herringbone, herringbone pattern
a pattern of columns of short parallel lines with all the lines in one column sloping one way and lines in adjacent columns sloping the other way; it is used in weaving, masonry, parquetry, embroidery
a design carved in relief into a block of linoleum
any of various geometric designs (usually circular) symbolizing the universe; used chiefly in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation
(Islam) a design in the shape of niche in a Muslim prayer rug; during worship the niche must be pointed toward Mecca
motif, motive
a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration
polka dot
design consisting of a pattern of regularly spaced circular spots
a design produced by pyrography
screen saver
(computer science) a moving design that appears on a computer screen when there has been no input for a specified period of time
a design consisting of a central disk resembling the sun and rays emanating from it
a design on the skin made by tattooing
tetraskele, tetraskelion
a figure consisting of four stylized human arms or legs (or bent lines) radiating from a center
triskele, triskelion
a figure consisting of three stylized human arms or legs (or three bent lines) radiating from a center
pattern of weaving or structure of a fabric
a pattern of marks
a textile pattern of squares or crossed lines (resembling a checkerboard)
a publisher's emblem printed in a book (usually on the title page)
colors, colours
a distinguishing emblem
(heraldry) in medieval times, an emblem used to decorate a helmet
a representation of the structure on which Jesus was crucified; used as an emblem of Christianity or in heraldry
an emblematic design (especially in heraldry)
emblem usually consisting of a rectangular piece of cloth of distinctive design
emblem indicating the right of a person to bear arms
open weave
a weave in which warp threads never come together, leaving interstices in the fabric
plain weave, taffeta weave
a basic style of weave in which the weft and warp threads intertwine alternately to produce a checkerboard effect
satin weave
a weave in which the filling and warp threads intersect in such a way as to give a smooth compact surface with no distinguishable twill line
seal, stamp
a device incised to make an impression; used to secure a closing or to authenticate documents
skull and crossbones
emblem warning of danger or death
emblem consisting of an object such as an animal or plant; serves as the symbol of a family or clan (especially among American Indians)
totem pole
a tribal emblem consisting of a pillar carved and painted with totemic figures; erected by Indian tribes of the northwest Pacific coast
twill, twill weave
a weave used to produce the effect of parallel diagonal ribs
a light-colored marking
crisscross, cross, mark
a marking that consists of lines that cross each other
eyespot, ocellus
an eyelike marking (as on the wings of some butterflies); usually a spot of color inside a ring of another color
graded markings that indicate light or shaded areas in a drawing or painting
dapple, fleck, maculation, patch, speckle, spot
a small contrasting part of something
bar, streak, stripe
a narrow marking of a different color or texture from the background
Hakenkreuz, swastika
the official emblem of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich; a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise direction
Type of:
decoration, ornament, ornamentation
something used to beautify

v make or work out a plan for; devise

design a new sales strategy”
contrive, plan, project
devise the sequence of events in (a literary work or a play, movie, or ballet)
contrive (a plan) by mutual agreement
map, map out
plan, delineate, or arrange in detail
Type of:
create by mental act, create mentally
create mentally and abstractly rather than with one's hands

v make a design of; plan out in systematic, often graphic form

design a better mousetrap”
design as an engineer
design anew, make a new design for
blueprint, draft, draught
make a blueprint of
Type of:
create by mental act, create mentally
create mentally and abstractly rather than with one's hands

v create the design for; create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner

“Chanel designed the famous suit”
cut, tailor
style and tailor in a certain fashion
make up
devise or compose
cut into gores
Type of:
create, make
create by artistic means

v plan something for a specific role or purpose or effect

“This room is not designed for work”
Type of:
designate, destine, intend, specify
design or destine

v create designs

“Dupont designs for the house of Chanel”
Type of:
create, make
create by artistic means

n the creation of something in the mind

conception, excogitation, innovation, invention
the invention of a scheme or story to suit some purpose
the faculty of contriving; inventive skill
Type of:
creative thinking, creativeness, creativity
the ability to create

n an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions

“he made no secret of his designs
aim, intent, intention, purpose
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idea, mind
your intention; what you intend to do
a contrary aim
final cause
(philosophy) the end or purpose of a thing or process
the purpose of achieving or obtaining
purpose; the phrase `with a view to' means `with the intention of' or `for the purpose of'
a fixed and persistent intent or purpose
Type of:
end, goal
the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it

v conceive or fashion in the mind; invent

“She designed a good excuse for not attending classes that day”
Type of:
conceive, conceptualise, conceptualize, gestate
have the idea for

v intend or have as a purpose

“She designed to go far in the world of business”
Type of:
intend, mean, think
have in mind as a purpose

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