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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 ?
And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world.
Another reason why I liked this book so much is that, though, in the case of other works (however clever they be), one may read them, yet remember not a word of them (for I am a man naturally dull of comprehension, and unable to read works of any great importance),--although, as I say, one may read such works, one reads such a book as YOURS as easily as though it had been written by oneself, and had taken possession of one's heart, and turned it inside out for inspection, and were describing it in detail as a matter of perfect simplicity.
One had to pinch oneself to be sure that one was awake as one heard this sane and practical Professor in cold measured tones describing the monstrous three-eyed fish-lizards and the huge water-snakes which inhabit this enchanted sheet of water.
For instance, some worthy persons maintained that the moon was an ancient comet which, in describing its elongated orbit round the sun, happened to pass near the earth, and became confined within her circle of attraction.
But when this view is investigated, it is found that it compels us to suppose that the box can be desired without the child's having either an image of the box or the word "box." This will require a theory of desire which may be, and I think is, in the main true, but which removes desire from among things that actually occur, and makes it merely a convenient fiction, like force in mechanics.* With such a view, desire is no longer a true cause, but merely a short way of describing certain processes.
At last, when Tom was describing one of the roughest and raggedest ones, he gave a shiver and a gasp and says:
Presently when Tom was describing another mangy, rough deck passenger, he give that shiver again and says:
Signature Living's Hotel - which features themed rooms - narrowly pipped The Nadler to the top spot with a whopping 90% of its reviews describing the hotel as "excellent".
One of Tolkien's biographers writes of "Morris's aptitude, despite the vagueness of place and time in which the story is set, for describing with great precision the details of his imagined landscape," and continues, "Tolkien himself was to follow Morris's example in later years" (Carpenter 70).
Wouters structures his analysis of manners books with a trope from his gender focus: women's "escape" from their nineteenth-century confinement to "the home and good society." After describing the starting point of female parlor power in the Victorian age, subsequent chapters detail the ways in which women got free in the twentieth century--to pay for themselves in public, to go out to work, to go about without chaperones, and to "do their own courting." In each chapter he examines ideas and practices in each country.
He also defends Jack's father, Albert Lewis, against Jack's "(despising) his father for what he regarded as Albert's lack of culture" p74, evenly describing Albert as a "remarkably well-read" man who tried hard to be a companion as well as a father to his sons.
Before describing briefly each contribution, it is important to define "research methods" because as Williamson, Burstein, and McKemmish (2000) pointed out, research methods and data collection techniques are sometimes difficult to distinguish.