Describe Synonym Guide — Definition, Antonyms & Examples

The term ‘describe’ means “to give a comprehensive account of something.” A synonym for describe is the term ‘explain.’

This article will explore other words that have similar or same meaning as the term ‘describe.’

The Definition of Describe

‘Describe’ is a verb, borrowed from Old French descrivre, Latin dēscrībō, from (“off”) + scrībō (“write”). The verb takes the following forms: simple present – describes, present participle – describing, simple past and past participle – described.

The dictionary defines ‘describe’ as “to denote, or tell in spoken or written words.” My experience is hard to describe. Describe also means “to trace or mark out.”

Sentence Examples

  • It is difficult to describe the exquisiteness of Mr. David’s residence with mere words.
  • ‘Statistics’ is the term commonly used to describe data collection, analysis and interpretation.
  • I would describe myself as hardworking and go-getting.
  • I would describe the experience as a strange and challenging one.
  • The English teachers asked us to describe our family structure.
  • Could you please describe the location, so I don’t get lost?
  • In class, we were asked to describe our personality traits.
  • I wanted to describe the Italian resort, but I don’t know where to begin.

Synonym for Describe — Exploring words with Similar Meanings

Synonyms for ‘describe’ include portray, explain, illustrate, express, recount, and elucidate. Other terms related to ‘describe’ include: make vivid, report, draw, through light upon, paint, distinguish and represent.

1. Define

The term originates from Old French definer, Latin dēfīniō (“limit, settle”), and + fīniō (“set a limit, bound, end”). It means to identify or determine the essential quality and nature of an entity.

  • We need to define our aims and objectives.
  • You need to define your goals before you start working on them.

2. Portray

‘Portray’ originates from Middle French portraire. Portray means to represent an entity in a specific way.

  • During his trial, the accused tried to portray himself as a victim of an uncaring society.
  • Her artworks portray a unique sense of love.

3. Depict

The term is from Latin dēpictus, dēpingō. It means “to show what a person or thing is like.”

  • Janet’s paintings depict the conflict in our world today.
  • The advertisements depict the authenticity of the products.

4. Outline

The word is equivalent to out +‎ line. It means “to show the essential features of something.”

  • A brief outline of the program of events was drawn.
  • The mayor gave only a vague outline of the project he would be executing.

5. Delineate

The term originates from Latin dēlīneātus, the past participle of dēlīneo (“to sketch out”) and de- + līnea (“line”). It is the act of representing in words, especially in details.

  • Most employees could not delineate their roles in the organization.
  • I asked the workers to delineate their challenges.

Antonyms for Describe — Exploring Words with Opposite Meanings

1. Conceal

The word ‘conceal’ is from Old French conceler (“hide, disguise”) and Latin concelāre, infinitive of concelō (“carefully disguise”). Conceal connotes the act of preventing something from being known.

  • The rich conceal their wealth.
  • The child doesn’t conceal anything from her mother.
  • Thompson could not conceal his desire for money.

2. Misrepresent

Misrepresent is from mis- +‎ represent. Misrepresent means “to portray something inappropriately.”

  • Those figures grossly misrepresent reality.
  • Jeremiah told me he would misrepresent the information in the tables.

3. Mystify

The word ‘mystify’ was first attested in French mystifier. ‘Mystify’ means to confuse or make something impossible to understand.

  • Henry decided to mystify the audience with his story.
  • Does all this drama mystify you as much as it does me?
person holding ballpoint pen writing on notebook beside laptop
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

The English term ‘describe’ means “to give a detailed account of something.” A common synonym for describe is the term ‘explain.’ Other words with similar meanings include: portray, and elucidate.

Words opposite in meaning to ‘describe’ include “conceal,” “misrepresent,” and “mystify.” You can learn more synonyms for the term from a thesaurus.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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