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Supposedly vs. Supposably


[dih-fahyn] /dɪˈfaɪn/
verb (used with object), defined, defining.
to state or set forth the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.): They disagreed on how to define “liberal.”.
to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe:
to define judicial functions.
to fix or lay down clearly and definitely; specify distinctly:
to define one's responsibilities.
to determine or fix the boundaries or extent of:
to define property with stakes.
to make clear the outline or form of:
The roof was boldly defined against the sky.
verb (used without object), defined, defining.
to set forth the meaning of a word, phrase, etc.; construct a definition.
Origin of define
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for definable
Historical Examples
  • But the measure, I must repeat, which was adopted by the authors of Gorboduc is by no means so definable.

    A Study of Shakespeare Algernon Charles Swinburne
  • It followed that the function of government was limited and definable.

    Liberalism L. T. Hobhouse
  • The feelings of each resident were in some cases quite defined or definable; as for instance Dave's and Dolly's.

    When Ghost Meets Ghost William Frend De Morgan
  • They have no definable "time-shape," as Mr. Fisher might put it.

  • An infinitely wise, infinitely good and powerful Being has no definable relation to the phenomenal world at all.

    Parallel Paths Thomas William Rolleston
  • There must be a definable Right or Wrong upon all these issues.

    The Salvaging Of Civilisation H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • What lies behind the Tank depends upon this fact; there is no definable upward limit of mass.

    War and the Future H. G. Wells
  • They were not formed or definable at all before the year 1000; by the year 1200 they were gone.

    Hills and the Sea H. Belloc
  • And necessities are definable in terms that take account only of physical requirements.

  • Born into the world with many other gifts, this last and least definable gift of popularity was added to complete them all.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
British Dictionary definitions for definable


verb (transitive)
to state precisely the meaning of (words, terms, etc)
to describe the nature, properties, or essential qualities of
to determine the boundary or extent of
(often passive) to delineate the form or outline of: the shape of the tree was clearly defined by the light behind it
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 definable



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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