scheming; intriguing; artful; crafty.
showing or using forethought.


the act or art of making designs.

Origin of designing

First recorded in 1610–20; design + -ing2, -ing1
Related formsde·sign·ing·ly, adverbwell-de·sign·ing, adjective

Synonyms for designing



verb (used with object)

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.
to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
to intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.
to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan: The prisoner designed an intricate escape.
to assign in thought or intention; purpose: He designed to be a doctor.
Obsolete. to mark out, as by a sign; indicate.

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.


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.
organization or structure of formal elements in a work of art; composition.
the combination of details or features of a picture, building, etc.; the pattern or motif of artistic work: the design on a bracelet.
the art of designing: a school of design.
a plan or project: a design for a new process.
a plot or intrigue, especially an underhand, deceitful, or treacherous one: His political rivals formulated a design to unseat him.
designs, a hostile or aggressive project or scheme having evil or selfish motives: He had designs on his partner's stock.
intention; purpose; end.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for designing

Contemporary Examples of designing

Historical Examples of designing

  • It has cost over $200,000, and it was in course of designing and construction two years.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • Why did Mrs. Hallam suspect him of designing to meet Calendar at Queensborough?

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • And always thrown at his head by designing parents for his money.

  • This tendency is counteracted by designing the cross section with superelevation.

  • So I invited him to sup with me, just as if he were a fair youth, and I a designing lover.

British Dictionary definitions for designing



artful and scheming; conniving; crafty
Derived Formsdesigningly, adverb



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


a plan, sketch, or preliminary drawing
the arrangement or pattern of elements or features of an artistic or decorative workthe design of the desk is Chippendale
a finished artistic or decorative creation
the art of designing
a plan, scheme, or project
an end aimed at or planned for; intention; purpose
(often plural; often foll by on or against) a plot or hostile scheme, often to gain possession of (something) by illegitimate means
a coherent or purposeful pattern, as opposed to chaosGod's design appears in nature
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 designing

"scheming," 1670s, present participle adjective from design (v.).



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.)).



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with designing


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.