from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To state the precise meaning of (a word or sense of a word, for example).
  • intransitive verb To describe the nature or basic qualities of; explain.
  • intransitive verb To make clear the outline or form of; delineate.
  • intransitive verb To specify distinctly.
  • intransitive verb To give form or meaning to.
  • intransitive verb To make or write a definition.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To determine, declare, or mark the limit of; circumscribe; determine or indicate the bounds or outlines of with precision; mark or set out clearly: as, to define the extent of a kingdom or country.
  • To fix, establish, or prescribe authoritatively: as, to define the duties of an officer.
  • To state the signification of; explain what is expressed by (a word, a phrase, etc.); state the nature or essential properties of: as, to define virtue; define your meaning more clearly.
  • To determine; settle; decide.
  • To determine; decide; give judgment.
  • To state a definition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb obsolete To determine; to decide.
  • transitive verb To fix the bounds of; to bring to a termination; to end.
  • transitive verb To determine or clearly exhibit the boundaries of; to mark the limits of.
  • transitive verb To determine with precision; to mark out with distinctness; to ascertain or exhibit clearly.
  • transitive verb To determine the precise signification of; to fix the meaning of; to describe accurately; to explain; to expound or interpret.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To determine.
  • verb To express the essential nature of something.
  • verb To state the meaning of a word or word group or a sign or symbol.
  • verb To describe, explain, or make definite and clear.
  • verb To demark sharply the outlines or limits of an area or concept.
  • noun computing, programming A kind of macro in source code that replaces one text string with another wherever it occurs.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb decide upon or fix definitely
  • verb show the form or outline of
  • verb determine the essential quality of
  • verb determine the nature of
  • verb give a definition for the meaning of a word


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English definen, diffinen, from Old French definir, diffiner, from Latin dēfīnīre, to limit, determine : dē-, intensive pref.; see de– + fīnis, boundary, limit.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English definen, from Old French definer, variant of definir, from Latin dēfīniō ("limit, settle, define"), from + fīniō ("set a limit, bound, end")


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