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[dih-skrahyb] /dɪˈskraɪb/
verb (used with object), described, describing.
to tell or depict in written or spoken words; give an account of:
He described the accident very carefully.
to pronounce, as by a designating term, phrase, or the like; label:
There are few people who may be described as geniuses.
to indicate; be a sign of; denote:
Conceit, in many cases, describes a state of serious emotional insecurity.
to represent or delineate by a picture or figure.
Geometry. to draw or trace the outline of:
to describe an arc.
Origin of describe
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English describen < Latin dēscrībere, equivalent to dē- de- + scrībere to write
Related forms
describable, adjective
describability, noun
describably, adverb
describer, noun
nondescribable, adjective
overdescribe, verb (used with object), overdescribed, overdescribing.
predescribe, verb (used with object), predescribed, predescribing.
redescribe, verb (used with object), redescribed, redescribing.
self-described, adjective
undescribable, adjective
undescribableness, noun
undescribably, adverb
undescribed, adjective
well-described, adjective
1. portray, characterize, represent; recount, tell, relate. Describe, narrate agree in the idea of giving an account of something. To describe is to convey in words the appearance, nature, attributes, etc., of something. The word often implies vividness of personal observation: to describe a scene, an event. To narrate is to recount the occurrence of something, usually by giving the details of an event or events in the order of their happening. Narrate thus applies only to that which happens in time: to narrate an incident. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for describing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We have seen how the works we have been describing are lacking in defensive qualities.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • So, when I tried to describe the most charming girl of whom I could think, I was describing you.

  • It must be borne in mind that the period we are describing was one of rapid development.

    Women of England, Volume 9 (of 10) Burleigh James Bartlett
  • I remembered what Anna Sartorius had said in describing this haupt-probe to me.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • The Jesuits, in their Relations, were describing the friendly feelings of the Indians towards themselves.

    The Popham Colony William Frederick Poole
British Dictionary definitions for describing


verb (transitive)
to give an account or representation of in words
to pronounce or label: he has been described as a genius
to draw a line or figure, such as a circle
Derived Forms
describable, adjective
describer, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin dēscrībere to copy off, write out, delineate, from de- + scrībere to write
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 describing



early 13c., descriven, from Old French descrivre, descrire (13c.), from Latin describere "to write down, copy; sketch, represent" (see description). Reconstructed with Latin spelling 16c. Related: Describable; described, describes, describing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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