See more synonyms for design on
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.

Origin of design

1350–1400; Middle English designen < Latin dēsignāre to mark out. See de-, sign
Related formsout·de·sign, verb (used with object)o·ver·de·sign, verbpre·de·sign, verb (used with object)re·de·sign, verbself-de·sign, nounun·der·de·sign, verb (used with object)

Synonym study

5. See intend. 13. See plan. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for design

Contemporary Examples of design

Historical Examples of design

British Dictionary definitions for design


  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. (tr) obsolete 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 workthe 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 chaosGod's design appears in nature
  9. argument from design philosophy another name for teleological argument
Derived Formsdesignable, 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

Word Origin and History for design

1540s, from Latin designare "mark out, devise, choose, designate, appoint," from de- "out" (see de-) + signare "to mark," from signum "a mark, sign" (see sign (n.)). Originally in English with the meaning now attached to designate; many modern uses of design are metaphoric extensions. Related: Designed; designing.


1580s, from Middle French desseign "purpose, project, design," from Italian disegno, from disegnare "to mark out," from Latin designare "to mark out" (see design (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.