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[mod-uh-fahy] /ˈmɒd əˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), modified, modifying.
to change somewhat the form or qualities of; alter partially; amend:
to modify a contract.
Grammar. (of a word, phrase, or clause) to stand in a syntactically subordinate relation to (another word, phrase, or clause), usually with descriptive, limiting, or particularizing meaning; be a modifier. In a good man, good modifies man.
to be the modifier or attribute of.
to change (a vowel) by umlaut.
to reduce or lessen in degree or extent; moderate; soften:
to modify one's demands.
verb (used without object), modified, modifying.
to be or become modified.
Origin of modify
1350-1400; Middle English modifien < Middle French modifier < Latin modificāre to impose a rule or pattern, regulate, restrain. See mode1, -ify
Related forms
modifiable, adjective
modifiability, modifiableness, noun
nonmodifying, adjective
overmodify, verb, overmodified, overmodifying.
premodify, verb (used with object), premodified, premodifying.
remodify, verb, remodified, remodifying.
unmodifiable, adjective
unmodified, adjective
1. vary, adjust, shape, reform. 5. Modify, qualify, temper suggest altering an original statement, condition, or the like, so as to avoid anything excessive or extreme. To modify is to alter in one or more particulars, generally in the direction of leniency or moderation: to modify demands, rates. To qualify is to restrict or limit by exceptions or conditions: to qualify one's praise, hopes. To temper is to alter the quality of something, generally so as to diminish its force or harshness: to temper one's criticism with humor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for modifiability
Historical Examples
  • As has been already suggested, one of the most important characteristics of all these tendencies is their modifiability.

    How to Teach George Drayton Strayer and Naomi Norsworthy
  • The plasticity of neurone groups seems to vary in two respects--as to modifiability and as to power to hold modifications.

    How to Teach George Drayton Strayer and Naomi Norsworthy
  • There appears indeed to be hardly any limit to the almost infinite plasticity and modifiability of domestic animals.

    Charles Darwin Grant Allen
  • All neurones have the three characteristics of sensitivity, conductivity, and modifiability.

    Principles of Teaching Adam S. Bennion
British Dictionary definitions for modifiability


verb (mainly transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
to change the structure, character, intent, etc, of
to make less extreme or uncompromising: to modify a demand
(grammar) (of a word or group of words) to bear the relation of modifier to (another word or group of words)
(linguistics) to change (a vowel) by umlaut
(intransitive) to be or become modified
Derived Forms
modifiable, adjective
modifiability, modifiableness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French modifier, from Latin modificāre to limit, control, from modus measure + facere to make
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 modifiability



late 14c., from Old French modifier (14c.), from Latin modificare "to limit, measure off, restrain," from modus "measure, manner" (see mode (n.1)) + root of facere "to make" (see factitious). Related: Modified; modifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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