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.


Nearby words

  1. desiderata,
  2. desiderate,
  3. desiderative,
  4. desideratum,
  5. desiderium,
  6. designate,
  7. designated,
  8. designated driver,
  9. designated employment,
  10. designated hitter

Origin of design

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

Related forms

Synonym study

5. See intend. 13. See plan. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for underdesign



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 underdesign
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with underdesign


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.