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tr.v. de·scribed, de·scrib·ing, de·scribes
1. To give an account of in speech or writing: describe a sea voyage.
2. To convey an idea or impression of; characterize: She described her childhood as a time of wonder and discovery.
3. To represent pictorially; depict: Goya's etchings describe the horrors of war in grotesque detail.
4. To trace the form or outline of: describe a circle with a compass.

[Middle English describen, from Latin dēscrībere, to write down : dē-, de- + scrībere, to write; see skrībh- in Indo-European roots.]

de·scrib′a·ble adj.
de·scrib′er n.
Synonyms: describe, narrate, recite, recount, relate, report
These verbs mean to tell the facts, details, or particulars of something in speech or in writing: described the accident; narrated their travel experiences; an explorer reciting her adventures; a mercenary recounting his exploits; related the day's events; reported what she had seen.
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.


vb (tr)
1. to give an account or representation of in words
2. to pronounce or label: he has been described as a genius.
3. to draw a line or figure, such as a circle
[C15: from Latin dēscrībere to copy off, write out, delineate, from de- + scrībere to write]
deˈscribable adj
deˈscriber n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



v.t. -scribed, -scrib•ing.
1. to tell or depict in words; give an account of: to describe an accident in detail.
2. to pronounce, as by a designating term or phrase: to describe someone as a tyrant.
3. to represent or delineate by a picture.
4. to draw or trace the outline of: to describe an arc.
[1400–50; < Latin dēscrībere=dē- de- + scrībere to write]
de•scrib′a•ble, adj.
de•scrib′er, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


The verb describe can be used either with a direct object or with a wh-clause.

1. used with a direct object

When you describe someone or something, you say what they are like.

Can you describe your son?

You can use describe with a direct object and an indirect object. The direct object goes first.

He described the murderer in detail to the police officer.
She described the feeling to me.
2. used with a wh-clause

Describe can be used in front of various kinds of wh-clause.

The man described what he had seen.
He described how he escaped from prison.

You can use describe with an indirect object and a wh-clause. The indirect object goes first.

I can't describe to you what it was like.
I described to him what had happened in Patricia's house.

Be Careful!
When you use describe with an indirect object, you must put to in front of the indirect object. Don't say, for example, 'She described me the feeling' or 'I can't describe you what it was like'.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012


Past participle: described
Gerund: describing

I describe
you describe
he/she/it describes
we describe
you describe
they describe
I described
you described
he/she/it described
we described
you described
they described
Present Continuous
I am describing
you are describing
he/she/it is describing
we are describing
you are describing
they are describing
Present Perfect
I have described
you have described
he/she/it has described
we have described
you have described
they have described
Past Continuous
I was describing
you were describing
he/she/it was describing
we were describing
you were describing
they were describing
Past Perfect
I had described
you had described
he/she/it had described
we had described
you had described
they had described
I will describe
you will describe
he/she/it will describe
we will describe
you will describe
they will describe
Future Perfect
I will have described
you will have described
he/she/it will have described
we will have described
you will have described
they will have described
Future Continuous
I will be describing
you will be describing
he/she/it will be describing
we will be describing
you will be describing
they will be describing
Present Perfect Continuous
I have been describing
you have been describing
he/she/it has been describing
we have been describing
you have been describing
they have been describing
Future Perfect Continuous
I will have been describing
you will have been describing
he/she/it will have been describing
we will have been describing
you will have been describing
they will have been describing
Past Perfect Continuous
I had been describing
you had been describing
he/she/it had been describing
we had been describing
you had been describing
they had been describing
I would describe
you would describe
he/she/it would describe
we would describe
you would describe
they would describe
Past Conditional
I would have described
you would have described
he/she/it would have described
we would have described
you would have described
they would have described
Collins English Verb Tables © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Verb1.describe - give a description of; "He drew an elaborate plan of attack"
represent - describe or present, usually with respect to a particular quality; "He represented this book as an example of the Russian 19th century novel"
delineate - describe in vivid detail
exposit, set forth, expound - state; "set forth one's reasons"
adumbrate, outline, sketch - describe roughly or briefly or give the main points or summary of; "sketch the outline of the book"; "outline his ideas"
2.describe - to give an account or representation of in wordsdescribe - to give an account or representation of in words; "Discreet Italian police described it in a manner typically continental"
inform - impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to; "I informed him of his rights"
3.describe - make a mark or lines on a surfacedescribe - make a mark or lines on a surface; "draw a line"; "trace the outline of a figure in the sand"
mark - make or leave a mark on; "the scouts marked the trail"; "ash marked the believers' foreheads"
construct - draw with suitable instruments and under specified conditions; "construct an equilateral triangle"
inscribe - draw within a figure so as to touch in as many places as possible
circumscribe - draw a line around; "He drew a circle around the points"
circumscribe - to draw a geometric figure around another figure so that the two are in contact but do not intersect
draw - engage in drawing; "He spent the day drawing in the garden"
draw - represent by making a drawing of, as with a pencil, chalk, etc. on a surface; "She drew an elephant"; "Draw me a horse"
write - mark or trace on a surface; "The artist wrote Chinese characters on a big piece of white paper"; "Russian is written with the Cyrillic alphabet"
4.describe - identify as in botany or biology, for example
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. relate, tell, report, present, detail, explain, express, illustrate, set out, specify, chronicle, recount, recite, impart, narrate, set forth, give an account of, put in words We asked her to describe what she had seen.
2. portray, depict, characterize, call, paint, brand, define, dub, sketch Even his allies describe him as forceful, aggressive and determined.
3. trace, draw, outline, sketch, mark out, delineate The ball described a perfect arc across the field.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. To give a verbal account of:
2. To present a lifelike image of:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
يَصِفيَصِفُيُعَرِّفُ نَفْسَه إنَّه
popsatvydávat secharakterizovat
lÿsasegjast vera; lÿsa sjálfum sér sem
mô tả


[dɪsˈkraɪb] VT
1. [+ scene, person] → describir
describe him for usdescríbenoslo
the feeling is impossible to describela sensación es indescriptible
she describes herself as an executivese define como una ejecutiva
I wouldn't describe her as a feministno la calificaría de or describiría como feminista
2. (Geom) [+ circle] → describir
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[dɪˈskraɪb] vtdécrire
to describe how ... → décrire comment ..., décrire de quelle manière ...
to describe what ... → décrire ce que ...
to describe sth to sb → décrire qch à qn
to describe sb to sb → décrire qn à qn
to describe sth as → qualifier qch de
She described the meeting as very productive → Elle a qualifié la réunion de très productive.
to describe sb as → décrire qn comme
to be described as → être décrit(e) comme
to describe o.s. as sth → se qualifier de qch
They describe themselves as liberals → Ils se qualifient de libéraux.
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= give description of)beschreiben, schildern; describe him for usbeschreiben Sie ihn uns (dat); which cannot be describedwas unbeschreiblich ist; to describe oneself/somebody as …sich/jdn als … bezeichnen; he describes himself as an intellectualer bezeichnet sich als Intellektueller; the police describe him as dangerous/a terroristdie Polizei bezeichnet ihn als gefährlich/(einen) Terroristen; he is described as being tall with short fair hairer wird als groß mit kurzen blonden Haaren beschrieben
(Math) → beschreiben
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[dɪsˈkraɪb] vtdescrivere
describe him for us → descrivicelo
she describes herself as a teacher → dice di essere insegnante
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(diˈskraib) verb
1. to give an account of in words; to tell in words what something or someone is like. He described what had happened; Would you describe her as beautiful?
2. to say that one is something. He describes himself as a salesman.
deˈscription (-ˈskrip-) noun
1. (an) act of describing. I recognized him from your description.
2. an account of anything in words. He gave a description of his holiday.
3. a sort or kind. He carried a gun of some description.

to describe (not describe about) a scene.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


يَصِفُ popsat beskrive beschreiben περιγράφω describir kuvailla décrire opisati descrivere 記述する 묘사하다 beschrijven beskrive opisać descrever описывать beskriva อธิบาย betimlemek mô tả 描述
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


vt. describir, narrar.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


vt describir
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The same difficulty occurs, should it ever happen that the poor compose a smaller part of the people than the rich, but from their superior abilities acquire the supreme power; for this is what they call an oligarchy; it should seem then that our definition of the different states was not correct: nay, moreover, could any one suppose that the majority of the people were poor, and the minority rich, and then describe the state in this manner, that an oligarchy was a government in which the rich, being few in number, possessed the supreme power, and that a democracy was a state in which the poor, being many in number, possessed it, still there will be another difficulty; for what name shall we give to those states we have been describing?
But in commencing to describe scenes, and perhaps he may add characters, that were so familiar to his own youth, there was a constant temptation to delineate that which he had known, rather than that which he might have imagined.
To satisfy my curious reader, it may be sufficient to describe Lorbrulgrud.
And though it may be thought that the knowledge of either may sufficiently enable him to describe at least that in which he hath been conversant, yet he will even here fall greatly short of perfection; for the follies of either rank do in reality illustrate each other.
As I was racking my brain as to how I should best describe it, my eyes fell upon the issue of my own Journal for the morning of the
Only one of these to be attempted." Or "(1) Describe Mother's laugh; (2) Describe Father's laugh; (3) Describe Mother's Party Dress; (4) Describe the Kennel and its Inmate."
How to describe this White Logic to those who have never experienced it!
Some well-intentioned, but rather obstinate persons, could not at first comprehend how, if the moon displays invariably the same face to the earth during her revolution, she can describe one turn round herself.
You may perhaps ask how under these disadvantageous circumstances we are able to distinguish our friends from one another: but the answer to this very natural question will be more fitly and easily given when I come to describe the inhabitants of Flatland.
It is clear that, in so far as the child is genuinely remembering, he has a picture of the past occurrence, and his words are chosen so as to describe the picture; and in so far as the hearer is genuinely apprehending what is said, the hearer is acquiring a picture more or less like that of the child.
The nature of the process is truly characterized by Glaucon, when he describes himself as a companion who is not good for much in an investigation, but can see what he is shown, and may, perhaps, give the answer to a question more fluently than another.
The book describes just what might happen to ourselves--to myself in particular.