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

This ruled notebook contains 100 sheets with wide ruled lines, and features the classic marble pattern design on its thick cover.

Apple’s smartwatch made some major leaps forward in design and functionality over the past two years, but the new Series 6 is more of a modest improvement this time around.

From Fortune

They both employ a similar rangefinder design and comparable resolution.

It comes with an odorless design and offers weights that range from 4 to 30 pounds.

It was the design school whose legacy can be found in the gadgets we carry—Apple’s Steve Jobs and Jony Ive took clear inspiration—and some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

From Fortune

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.


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More About Design

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.

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.