verb (used with object), de·lin·e·at·ed, de·lin·e·at·ing.

to trace the outline of; sketch or trace in outline; represent pictorially: He delineated the state of Texas on the map with a red pencil.
to portray in words; describe or outline with precision: In her speech she delineated the city plan with great care.

Origin of delineate

1550–60; < Latin dēlīneātus, equivalent to dē- de- + līneātus lineate
Related formsde·lin·e·a·ble [dih-lin-ee-uh-buh l] /dɪˈlɪn i ə bəl/, adjectivepre·de·lin·e·ate, verb (used with object), pre·de·lin·e·at·ed, pre·de·lin·e·at·ing.un·de·lin·e·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·lin·e·at·ed, adjectivewell-de·lin·e·at·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for delineating

Contemporary Examples of delineating

  • Austen does no better than the lexicographers at delineating a set that comprises all but only novels.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Birth of the Novel

    Nick Romeo

    November 27, 2014

  • Language is useful for delineating acceptable discourse, for isolating some and including others.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How To Shrink The Pro-Israel Tent

    Brent E. Sasley

    April 9, 2013

Historical Examples of delineating

  • Here, as nowhere else, has Prescott succeeded in delineating character.

    William Hickling Prescott

    Harry Thurston Peck

  • There was a particular dog in Washington which he was never tired of delineating.

  • For the present we will go on with delineating our exit pallet.

  • Out of Cruikshank's caricature he comes to us with a tail capable of delineating a whole alphabet of humour.

    George Cruikshank

    W. H. Chesson

  • He was dexterous in delineating character, was rapid in execution, had a respectable appreciation of colour.

    Art in England

    Dutton Cook

British Dictionary definitions for delineating


verb (tr)

to trace the shape or outline of; sketch
to represent pictorially, as by making a chart or diagram; depict
to portray in words, esp with detail and precision; describe
Derived Formsdelineable, adjectivedelineation, noundelineative, adjective

Word Origin for delineate

C16: from Latin dēlīneāre to sketch out, from līnea line 1
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

Word Origin and History for delineating



1550s, from Latin delineatus, past participle of delineare "to sketch out," from de- "completely" (see de-) + lineare "draw lines," from linea "line" (see line (n.)). Related: Delineated; delineating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper