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[dih-zahyn] /dɪˈzaɪn/
verb (used with object)
to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of:
to design a new bridge.
to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
to intend for a definite purpose:
a scholarship designed for foreign students.
to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan:
The prisoner designed an intricate escape.
to assign in thought or intention; purpose:
He designed to be a doctor.
Obsolete. to mark out, as by a sign; indicate.
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.
an outline, sketch, or plan, as of the form and structure of a work of art, an edifice, or a machine to be executed or constructed.
organization or structure of formal elements in a work of art; composition.
the combination of details or features of a picture, building, etc.; the pattern or motif of artistic work:
the design on a bracelet.
the art of designing:
a school of design.
a plan or project:
a design for a new process.
a plot or intrigue, especially an underhand, deceitful, or treacherous one:
His political rivals formulated a design to unseat him.
designs, a hostile or aggressive project or scheme having evil or selfish motives:
He had designs on his partner's stock.
intention; purpose; end.
adaptation of means to a preconceived end.
Origin of design
1350-1400; Middle English designen < Latin dēsignāre to mark out. See de-, sign
Related forms
outdesign, verb (used with object)
overdesign, verb
predesign, verb (used with object)
redesign, verb
self-design, noun
underdesign, verb (used with object)
5. See intend. 13. See plan. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for design
  • We were trying to simplify as much as possible, to create something basic, but not a faceless design.
  • Many commercial and industrial designers use computer-aided design software to create new products.
  • As an alternative, they can design a new section for their town's Web site.
  • But agreeing on a design is only the first step in completing a cover.
  • Researchers are increasingly turning to nature for design inspiration.
  • There's obviously more than one way to design a building.
  • Sometimes it takes a small, focused company to solve a vexing design dilemma.
  • Yet, if they are right, they could prove revolutionary for the design of new types of lenses.
  • Marketing is part of editorial, editorial is part of publicity, design is part of marketing.
  • Stradivari experimented with the design and arching of his instruments.
British Dictionary definitions for design


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
(transitive) to form or conceive in the mind; invent
(transitive) to intend, as for a specific purpose; plan
(transitive) (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 work: the 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 pl; 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 chaos: God's design appears in nature
(philosophy) argument from design, another name for teleological argument
Derived Forms
designable, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for design

1540s, from Latin designare "mark out, devise, choose, designate, appoint," from de- "out" (see de-) + signare "to mark," from signum "a mark, sign" (see sign (n.)). Originally in English with the meaning now attached to designate; many modern uses of design are metaphoric extensions. Related: Designed; designing.


1580s, from Middle French desseign "purpose, project, design," from Italian disegno, from disegnare "to mark out," from Latin designare "to mark out" (see design (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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design in Technology

The approach that engineering (and some other) disciplines use to specify how to create or do something. A successful design must satisfies a (perhaps informal) functional specification (do what it was designed to do); conforms to the limitations of the target medium (it is possible to implement); meets implicit or explicit requirements on performance and resource usage (it is efficient enough).
A design may also have to satisfy restrictions on the design process itself, such as its length or cost, or the tools available for doing the design.
In the software life-cycle, design follows requirements analysis and is followed by implementation.
["Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications", 2nd ed., Grady Booch].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with design
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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