[ dih-vel-uhp ]
See synonyms for: developdevelopeddevelopingdevelops on

verb (used with object)
  1. to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state: to develop natural resources; to develop one's musical talent.

  2. to cause to grow or expand: to develop one's muscles.

  1. to elaborate or expand in detail: to develop a theory.

  2. to bring into being or activity; generate; evolve.

  3. Drafting. to transfer the details of (a more or less two-dimensional design, pattern, or the like) from one surface, especially one that is prismatic or cylindrical, onto another, usually planar, in such a way that the distances between points remain the same.

  4. Biology.

    • to cause to go through the process of natural evolution from a previous and lower stage.

    • to cause to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.

  5. Mathematics. to express in an extended form, as in a series.

  6. Music. to unfold, by various technical means, the inherent possibilities of (a theme).

  7. Photography.

    • to render visible (the latent image on an exposed film or the like).

    • to treat (an exposed film or the like) with chemicals so as to render the latent image visible.

  8. Chess. to bring (a piece) into effective play, especially during the initial phase of a game when pieces are moved from their original position on the board: He developed his rook by castling.

  9. Mining. to prepare (a new mine) for working by digging access openings and building necessary structures.

verb (used without object)
  1. to grow into a more mature or advanced state; advance; expand: She is developing into a good reporter.

  2. to come gradually into existence or operation; be evolved.

  1. to be disclosed; become evident or manifest: The plot of the novel developed slowly.

  2. to undergo developing, as a photographic film.

  3. Biology.

    • to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.

    • to progress from earlier to later stages of ontogeny or phylogeny.

    • to reach sexual maturity.

Origin of develop

First recorded in 1585–95; from Middle French développer, Old French desveloper, equivalent to des- dis-1 + voloper “to wrap up”; see envelop

Other words from develop

  • de·vel·op·a·ble, adjective
  • de·vel·op·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • half-de·vel·oped, adjective
  • hy·per·de·vel·oped, adjective
  • mis·de·vel·op, verb
  • non·de·vel·op·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·de·vel·op, verb
  • un·de·vel·op·a·ble, adjective
  • well-de·vel·oped, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use develop in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for develop


/ (dɪˈvɛləp) /

  1. to come or bring to a later or more advanced or expanded stage; grow or cause to grow gradually

  2. (tr) to elaborate or work out in detail

  1. to disclose or unfold (thoughts, a plot, etc) gradually or (of thoughts, etc) to be gradually disclosed or unfolded

  2. to come or bring into existence; generate or be generated: he developed a new faith in God

  3. (intr often foll by from) to follow as a result (of); ensue (from): a row developed following the chairman's remarks

  4. (tr) to contract (a disease or illness)

  5. (tr) to improve the value or change the use of (land), as by building

  6. (tr) to exploit or make available the natural resources of (a country or region)

  7. (tr) photog

    • to treat (film, plate, or paper previously exposed to light, or the latent image in such material) with chemical solutions in order to produce a visible image

    • to process (photographic material) in order to produce negatives and prints

  8. biology to progress or cause to progress from simple to complex stages in the growth of an individual or the evolution of a species

  9. (tr) to elaborate upon (a musical theme) by varying the melody, key, etc

  10. (tr) maths to expand (a function or expression) in the form of a series

  11. (tr) geometry to project or roll out (a surface) onto a plane without stretching or shrinking any element

  12. chess to bring (a piece) into play from its initial position on the back rank

  13. (tr) obsolete to disclose or reveal

Origin of develop

C19: from Old French desveloper to unwrap, from des- dis- 1 + veloper to wrap; see envelop

Derived forms of develop

  • developable, adjective

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