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[dih-spley] /dɪˈspleɪ/
verb (used with object)
to show or exhibit; make visible:
to display a sign.
to reveal; betray:
to display fear.
to unfold; open out; spread out:
to display a sail.
to show ostentatiously; flaunt.
Printing. to give special prominence to (words, captions, etc.) by choice, size, and arrangement of type.
Digital Technology. to output (data) on a screen.
verb (used without object)
(of animals) to engage in a stereotyped behavior that conveys information to individuals of the same or another species.
an act or instance of displaying; exhibition:
a display of courage.
an ostentatious show:
a vulgar display of wealth.
  1. the giving of prominence to particular words, sentences, etc., by the choice, size, and arrangement of types and position, as in an advertisement, headline, or news story.
  2. printed matter thus displayed.
an arrangement, as of merchandise, art objects, or flowers, designed to please the eye, attract buyers, etc.
Digital Technology.
  1. the visual representation of the output of an electronic device.
  2. the portion of an electronic device that shows this representation, as a screen, lens, or reticle.
Animal Behavior.
  1. a pattern of behavior, as posturing, calling, or exposing a color patch, that conveys information to individuals of the same or another species:
    a threat display.
  2. an instance of such behavior.
Origin of display
1250-1300; Middle English desplayen < Anglo-French, Old French despleier < Late Latin displicāre to unfold. See dis-1, plicate
Related forms
displayer, noun
predisplay, noun, verb (used with object)
redisplay, verb (used with object)
self-display, noun
undisplaying, adjective
1, 2. Display, evince, exhibit, manifest mean to show or bring to the attention of another or others. To display is literally to spread something out so that it may be most completely and favorably seen: to display goods for sale. To exhibit is to display something in a show: to exhibit the best flowers. They may both be used for showing (off) one's qualities or feelings: He displayed his wit. He exhibited great surprise. To evince and to manifest also mean to show feelings or qualities: to evince or manifest surprise, interest. 4. flourish, parade, air. 8. See show.
1, 2. conceal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for display


(transitive) to show or make visible
(transitive) to disclose or make evident; reveal: to display anger
(transitive) to flaunt in an ostentatious way: to display military might
(transitive) to spread or open out; unfurl or unfold
(transitive) to give prominence to (headings, captions, etc) by the use of certain typefaces
(intransitive) (zoology) to engage in a display
the act of exhibiting or displaying; show: a display of fear
something exhibited or displayed
an ostentatious or pretentious exhibition: a display of his accomplishments
  1. an arrangement of certain typefaces to give prominence to headings, captions, advertisements, etc
  2. printed matter that is eye-catching
  1. a device capable of representing information visually, as on a cathode-ray tube screen
  2. the information so presented
(zoology) a pattern of behaviour in birds, fishes, etc, by which the animal attracts attention while it is courting the female, defending its territory, etc
(modifier) relating to or using typefaces that give prominence to the words they are used to set
Derived Forms
displayer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-French despleier to unfold, from Late Latin displicāre to scatter, from dis-1 + plicāre to fold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for display

late 13c., "unfurl" (a banner, etc.), from Old French desploiir (Modern French déployer) "unfold, unfasten, spread out" (of knots, sealed letters, etc.), from Latin displicare "to scatter," from dis- "un-, apart" (see dis-) + plicare "to fold" (see ply (v.1)).

Properly of sails or flags (and unconnected to play); meaning "reveal, exhibit" is late 14c. Related: Displayed; displaying.


1580s, "description," from display (v.). Meaning "exhibition" is from 1680s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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display in Technology

1. monitor.
2. A vector of pointers to activation records. The Nth element points to the activation record containing variables declared at lexical depth N. This allows faster access to variables from outer scopes than the alternative of linked activation records (but most variable accesses are either local or global or occasionally to the immediately enclosing scope). Displays were used in some ALGOL implementations.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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