Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
v. de·fined, de·fin·ing, de·fines
a. To state the precise meaning of (a word or sense of a word, for example).
b. To describe the nature or basic qualities of; explain: define the properties of a new drug; a study that defines people according to their median incomes.
a. To make clear the outline or form of; delineate: gentle hills that were defined against the sky.
b. To specify distinctly: define the weapons to be used in limited warfare.
3. To give form or meaning to: "For him, a life is defined by action" (Jay Parini).
To make or write a definition.
[Middle English definen, diffinen, from Old French definir, diffiner, from Latin dēfīnīre, to limit, determine : dē-, intensive pref.; see de- + fīnis, boundary, limit.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.