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[dih-vel-uh p] /dɪˈvɛl əp/
verb (used with object)
to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state:
to develop natural resources; to develop one's musical talent.
to cause to grow or expand:
to develop one's muscles.
to elaborate or expand in detail:
to develop a theory.
to bring into being or activity; generate; evolve.
Drafting. to transfer the details of (a more or less two-dimensional design, pattern, or the like) from one surface, especially one that is prismatic or cylindrical, onto another, usually planar, in such a way that the distances between points remain the same.
  1. to cause to go through the process of natural evolution from a previous and lower stage.
  2. to cause to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.
Mathematics. to express in an extended form, as in a series.
Music. to unfold, by various technical means, the inherent possibilities of (a theme).
  1. to render visible (the latent image on an exposed film or the like).
  2. to treat (an exposed film or the like) with chemicals so as to render the latent image visible.
Chess. to bring (a piece) into effective play, especially during the initial phase of a game when pieces are moved from their original position on the board:
He developed his rook by castling.
Mining. to prepare (a new mine) for working by digging access openings and building necessary structures.
verb (used without object)
to grow into a more mature or advanced state; advance; expand:
She is developing into a good reporter.
to come gradually into existence or operation; be evolved.
to be disclosed; become evident or manifest:
The plot of the novel developed slowly.
to undergo developing, as a photographic film.
  1. to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.
  2. to progress from earlier to later stages of ontogeny or phylogeny.
  3. to reach sexual maturity.
Origin of develop
1585-95; < Middle French développer, Old French desveloper, equivalent to des- dis-1 + voloper to wrap up; see envelop
Related forms
developable, adjective
developability, noun
half-developed, adjective
hyperdeveloped, adjective
misdevelop, verb
nondevelopable, adjective
predevelop, verb
undevelopable, adjective
well-developed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for develop
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But fate decreed that the doctor should not develop his thought.

    A Family of Noblemen Mikhal Saltykov
  • A few may be allowed to remain and develop for use as beets.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • My only desire is to develop and enlarge the sphere of your conceptions.

    Lumen Camille Flammarion
  • It is to develop that position, and be—hum—worthy of that position.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • There's a fine vein of quartz to develop, expensive machinery to install.

    North of Fifty-Three Bertrand W. Sinclair
British Dictionary definitions for develop


to come or bring to a later or more advanced or expanded stage; grow or cause to grow gradually
(transitive) to elaborate or work out in detail
to disclose or unfold (thoughts, a plot, etc) gradually or (of thoughts, etc) to be gradually disclosed or unfolded
to come or bring into existence; generate or be generated: he developed a new faith in God
(intransitive) often foll by from. to follow as a result (of); ensue (from): a row developed following the chairman's remarks
(transitive) to contract (a disease or illness)
(transitive) to improve the value or change the use of (land), as by building
(transitive) to exploit or make available the natural resources of (a country or region)
(transitive) (photog)
  1. to treat (film, plate, or paper previously exposed to light, or the latent image in such material) with chemical solutions in order to produce a visible image
  2. to process (photographic material) in order to produce negatives and prints
(biology) to progress or cause to progress from simple to complex stages in the growth of an individual or the evolution of a species
(transitive) to elaborate upon (a musical theme) by varying the melody, key, etc
(transitive) (maths) to expand (a function or expression) in the form of a series
(transitive) (geometry) to project or roll out (a surface) onto a plane without stretching or shrinking any element
(chess) to bring (a piece) into play from its initial position on the back rank
(transitive) (obsolete) to disclose or reveal
Derived Forms
developable, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Old French desveloper to unwrap, from des-dis-1 + veloper to wrap; see envelop
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 develop

1650s, "unroll, unfold," from French développer, replacing English disvelop (1590s, from Middle French desveloper), both from Old French desveloper "unwrap, unfurl, unveil; reveal the meaning of, explain," from des- "undo" + veloper "wrap up," of uncertain origin, possibly Celtic or Germanic. Modern figurative use is 18c. The photographic sense is from 1845; the real estate sense is from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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develop in Medicine

develop de·vel·op (dĭ-věl'əp)
v. de·vel·oped, de·vel·op·ing, de·vel·ops

  1. To progress from earlier to later stages of a life cycle.

  2. To progress from earlier to later or from simpler to more complex stages of evolution.

  3. To aid in the growth of; strengthen.

  4. To grow by degrees into a more advanced or mature state.

  5. To become affected with a disease; contract.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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