View synonyms for design


[ dih-zahyn ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of:

    to design a new bridge.

  2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
  3. to intend for a definite purpose:

    a scholarship designed for foreign students.

  4. to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan:

    The prisoner designed an intricate escape.

  5. to assign in thought or intention; purpose:

    He designed to be a doctor.

  6. Obsolete. to mark out, as by a sign; indicate.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make drawings, preliminary sketches, or plans.
  2. to plan and fashion the form and structure of an object, work of art, decorative scheme, etc.


  1. an outline, sketch, or plan, as of the form and structure of a work of art, an edifice, or a machine to be executed or constructed.
  2. organization or structure of formal elements in a work of art; composition.
  3. the combination of details or features of a picture, building, etc.; the pattern or motif of artistic work:

    the design on a bracelet.

  4. the art of designing:

    a school of design.

  5. a plan or project:

    a design for a new process.

  6. a plot or intrigue, especially an underhand, deceitful, or treacherous one:

    His political rivals formulated a design to unseat him.

  7. designs, a hostile or aggressive project or scheme having evil or selfish motives:

    He had designs on his partner's stock.

  8. intention; purpose; end.
  9. adaptation of means to a preconceived end.


/ dɪˈzaɪn /


  1. to work out the structure or form of (something), as by making a sketch, outline, pattern, or plans
  2. to plan and make (something) artistically or skilfully
  3. tr to form or conceive in the mind; invent
  4. tr to intend, as for a specific purpose; plan
  5. obsolete.
    tr to mark out or designate


  1. a plan, sketch, or preliminary drawing
  2. the arrangement or pattern of elements or features of an artistic or decorative work

    the design of the desk is Chippendale

  3. a finished artistic or decorative creation
  4. the art of designing
  5. a plan, scheme, or project
  6. an end aimed at or planned for; intention; purpose
  7. often plural; often foll by on or against a plot or hostile scheme, often to gain possession of (something) by illegitimate means
  8. a coherent or purposeful pattern, as opposed to chaos

    God's design appears in nature

  9. argument from design
    philosophy another name for teleological argument

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Derived Forms

  • deˈsignable, adjective

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Other Words From

  • outde·sign verb (used with object)
  • over·de·sign verb
  • prede·sign verb (used with object)
  • rede·sign verb
  • self-de·sign noun
  • under·de·sign verb (used with object)

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Word History and Origins

Origin of design1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English designen, from Latin dēsignāre “to mark out”; de-, sign

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Word History and Origins

Origin of design1

C16: from Latin dēsignāre to mark out, describe, from de- + signāre to mark, from signum a mark, sign

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Idioms and Phrases

see by design ; have designs on .

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Synonym Study

See intend. See plan.

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Example Sentences

An F-35 was destroyed on takeoff earlier in the year when a design flaw in its Pratt & Whitney F135 engine sparked a fire.

But the F-35 has been plagued with massive delays and cost overruns—mostly due to design defects and software issues.

In general, their presence is meant to throw you off your game by design.

Industry experts claim an increase in awareness amongst men when it comes to styles, design, and price regarding their underwear.

The creative team behind the new My Lai project is working out the details for set design.

This was a vast building of classical design, resembling a Grecian temple.

Besides this the old general meant it, when he had stated his design to provide a specially heavy pair of weapons.

This is often due to a law of nature rather than to imperfection of design or workmanship.

The Marshal's design, therefore, was to hold the enemy till the main French army arrived.

In length there was no alteration, but the design seems more condensed, more compact, yet slightly wider in the opening.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.