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define

[dih-fahyn] /dɪˈfaɪn/
verb (used with object), defined, defining.
1.
to state or set forth the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.): They disagreed on how to define “liberal.”.
2.
to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe:
to define judicial functions.
3.
to fix or lay down clearly and definitely; specify distinctly:
to define one's responsibilities.
4.
to determine or fix the boundaries or extent of:
to define property with stakes.
5.
to make clear the outline or form of:
The roof was boldly defined against the sky.
verb (used without object), defined, defining.
6.
to set forth the meaning of a word, phrase, etc.; construct a definition.
Origin
1325-1375
1325-75; Middle English def(f)inen < Anglo-French, Old French definer to put an end to < Latin dēfīnīre to limit, define, equivalent to dē- de- + fīnīre; see finish
Related forms
definable, adjective
definability, noun
definably, adverb
definement, noun
definer, noun
misdefine, verb (used with object), misdefined, misdefining.
nondefinability, noun
nondefinable, adjective
nondefinably, adverb
nondefined, adjective
nondefiner, noun
predefine, verb (used with object), predefined, predefining.
redefine, verb (used with object), redefined, redefining.
self-defined, adjective
semidefined, adjective
undefinable, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for define
  • At that time, there were two competing proposals for how to define a standard unit of measure, or meter.
  • Before you can talk about anything, you have to know what it is; you must be able to define it.
  • If you know anything about scientific process or just logic, you would know that you can't cure something you can't even define.
  • Color can define areas within small spaces.
  • Hard to define, harder to solve.
  • There has been a longstanding debate among psychologists about the proper way to measure and define human personality.
  • They grounded me and gave me a compass for how to define public service and how to make decisions regarding government policy.
  • After all, it's hard to define a word before it's coined.
  • The mountains and smaller ranges that help define this ecoregion have a significant effect on the climate.
  • The geography is vast, and so are statistics that now define it.
British Dictionary definitions for define

define

/dɪˈfaɪn/
verb (transitive)
1.
to state precisely the meaning of (words, terms, etc)
2.
to describe the nature, properties, or essential qualities of
3.
to determine the boundary or extent of
4.
(often passive) to delineate the form or outline of: the shape of the tree was clearly defined by the light behind it
5.
to fix with precision; specify
Derived Forms
definable, adjective
definability, noun
definably, adverb
definer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French definer to determine, from Latin dēfīnīre to set bounds to, from fīnīre to finish
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
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Word Origin and History for define
v.

late 14c., "to specify; to end," from Old French defenir "to end, terminate, determine," and directly from Latin definire "to limit, determine, explain," from de- "completely" (see de-) + finire "to bound, limit," from finis "boundary, end" (see finish (n.)). Related: Defined; defining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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