[ dih-zahyn ]
/ dɪˈzaɪn /
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See synonyms for: design / designed / designing / designs on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to make drawings, preliminary sketches, or plans.
to plan and fashion the form and structure of an object, work of art, decorative scheme, etc.
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Origin of design

1350–1400; Middle English designen<Latin dēsignāre to mark out. See de-, sign

synonym study for design

5. See intend. 13. See plan.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of design?

Design means to create a plan or sketch of something that is going to be made later, especially a plan that details what the finished thing will do and look like. A design is the plan or sketch created as a result of this activity. Design also means to intend something for a specific purpose. Design has several other senses as a verb and a noun.

Design means to sketch something out and draw up a plan of how the finished project will look and function. For example, the government will have a team design a new bridge before actually building it. This means that someone will draw a sketch of what they want the bridge to look like and determine how much weight they want the bridge to hold. The people who actually build the bridge will consult this plan to guide them in the construction. A person who makes these preliminary sketches is called a designer.

Real-life examples: Architects design new buildings. Mattel and Hasbro design new toys. Microsoft and Apple frequently design new computers and gadgets.

Used in a sentence: The engineer designed a new type of airplane wing. 

A design is the actual sketch or drawing that a person who is designing something creates. On the internet, you can find some early and original designs of many popular products we use today. Often, these early designs are quite different from the final product.

Used in a sentence: The scientists were working on a design for a new type of spacecraft. 

Design also means to intend something for a specific purpose.

Real-life examples: Hats are designed to be worn on the head. A lawnmower is designed to cut grass. Cars are not designed for driving underwater.

Used in a sentence: The ad campaign was designed to attract more teenage fans. 

Where does design come from?

The first records of design come from around 1350. It ultimately comes from the Latin dēsignāre, meaning “to mark out.”

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What are some other forms related to design?

  • designable (adjective)
  • designer (noun)
  • outdesign (verb)
  • overdesign (verb)
  • predesign (verb)
  • redesign (verb)

What are some synonyms for design?

What are some words that share a root or word element with design

What are some words that often get used in discussing design?

How is design used in real life?

Design is a common word that is often used to refer to an initial plan of something, especially something new.



Try using design!

True or False?

A bicycle design is a picture of the finished bicycle with a list of all of its features.

How to use design in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for design

/ (dɪˈzaɪn) /


Derived forms of design

designable, adjective

Word Origin for design

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with design


see by design; have designs on.

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