• Describe


    • UK IPA: /dəˈskɹaɪb/, /dɪsˈkɹaɪb/
    • Rhymes: -aɪb


    From Middle English descriven, from Old French descrivre, from Latin dēscrībō ("I copy off, transcribe, sketch off, describe in painting or writing"), from ("off") + scrībō ("write"); see scribe and shrive.

    Full definition of describe


    1. (transitive) To represent in words.
      The feeling is difficult to describe, but not unpleasant.
      The geographer describes countries and cities.
      • 1959, Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax Chapter 1, ...his lordship was out of humour. That was the way Chollacombe described as knaggy an old gager as ever Charles had had the ill-fortune to serve. Stiff-rumped, that's what he was, always rubbing the rust, or riding grub, like he had been for months past.
    2. (transitive) To represent by drawing; to draw a plan of; to delineate; to trace or mark out.
      to describe a circle by the compasses;   a torch waved about the head in such a way as to describe a circle
      • 1826, James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the MohicansUncas described an arc in the water with his own blade, and as the canoe passed swiftly on, Chingachgook recovered his paddle, and flourishing it on high, he gave the war-whoop of the Mohicans.
    3. (transitive, mathematics) To give rise to a geometrical structure.
      The function describes a very complex surface.
    4. (transitive, biology) To reveal a new species by scientifically explaining its characteristics and particularly how it differs from other species.
      The fungus was first described by a botanist.
    5. (obsolete) To distribute into parts, groups, or classes; to mark off; to class.
      • Bible, Joshua xviii. 9Passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book.


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