Definition of description in English:



  • 1A spoken or written account of a person, object, or event.

    ‘people who had seen him were able to give a description’
    • ‘Tabloid newspapers also favour emotive words over objective descriptions of events.’
    • ‘Write a brief description of the type of photographs that appear in each section.’
    • ‘Cassini wrote a detailed description of precisely how the longitude measurements were to be carried out.’
    • ‘When he began to write about cricket most reporters wrote spare, parched descriptions of the play.’
    • ‘He said the victim was only able to give a brief description of her attacker.’
    • ‘Additional information that is of value includes a brief description of the methods used to construct the library.’
    • ‘Thereafter the description of events is dependent upon her account only.’
    • ‘With five bedrooms, gymnasium and a Jacuzzi, it is certainly does not fit the description of the average croft.’
    • ‘Detailed descriptions are provided in the project report.’
    • ‘"None of the members of staff fit the description given by the girls."’
    • ‘Detailed job descriptions are provided to encourage teacher participation in the association.’
    • ‘Each chapter is preceded by the author's description of why and how she decided to study volcanoes.’
    • ‘If that plot description sounds a little confusing, have no fear.’
    • ‘But they honored my decision to keep the man's description vague.’
    • ‘Don't read this book if you want a detailed description of any particular mission to space.’
    • ‘The vivid descriptions in the books helped him greatly.’
    • ‘But at times, it is important to intertwine poetic phrases and vivid descriptions.’
    • ‘Brief physical descriptions are, however, supplied where appropriate in the discussion of specific occurrences.’
    • ‘He added that police did not yet have a description of the attacker.’
    • ‘The girls gave officers an apt description of the vehicle and the registration number.’
    account, explanation, elucidation, illustration, representation, interpretation
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    1. 1.1mass noun The action of giving a spoken or written account.
      ‘the emphasis was placed on explanation rather than description’
      • ‘Despite its apparently narrow extent, knowledge by acquaintance is supposed to provide the foundation for knowledge by description.’
      • ‘Above all, the emphasis was placed firmly on explanation rather than description.’
      • ‘Everyone exclaims about your great powers of description, how vivid and alive your writing is.’
      • ‘She is a master of exposition and description, with a ready ear for a telling anecdote.’
      • ‘Research into health inequality now aims to move away from description and towards explanation.’
  • 2A type or class of people or things.

    ‘it is laughably easy to buy drugs of all descriptions’
    • ‘My family have had boats of every description on the lake for the past 100 years.’
    • ‘I remember seeing the long line of people waiting with pots and pans of all descriptions.’
    • ‘Boats of all descriptions were motoring and sailing by, looking for at least one of the reported 500.’
    • ‘I've tried countless competitions of all descriptions for years with no success.’
    • ‘The place has one of the longer bars in York, boasting beers, bottles and spirits of all descriptions.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, we came across storks, ruffs and egrets, and herons of all descriptions.’
    • ‘On the way back, I could see the kite fest was starting to get going and the sky was beginning to fill with kites of all descriptions.’
    • ‘This rivalry had involved civil wars, peasant uprisings, and religious strife of every description.’
    • ‘On the tube yesterday, travellers of every description could be heard auditing their families.’
    • ‘The old church building was packed with at least a hundred furs of every description.’
    • ‘Yet there are parents who seek out professional tutors of all descriptions for children who are barely old enough to hold a book.’
    • ‘Our major concerns are pollution of all descriptions, both airborne and noise.’
    • ‘There will be a selection of bedding plants, shrubs and plants of every description on sale.’
    • ‘Go into Klagenfurt, a beautiful town, full of public squares and boutiques of every description.’
    • ‘The dry goods stores are a heaven to visit, full of chillies of all descriptions and sizes.’
    • ‘He has received dozens of invitations this week from clubs of all descriptions.’
    • ‘There will be comedy routines, monologues and young people playing music of all descriptions and tastes.’
    • ‘Every available area is taken up by paintings of all descriptions and all styles.’
    • ‘The Web can help you walk, talk and make ponchos of all descriptions.’
    • ‘Fresh seafood of all descriptions is available everywhere and at affordable prices.’
    sort, variety, kind, style, type, category, order, breed, species, class, designation, specification, genre, genus, brand, make, character, ilk, kidney, grain, stamp, mould
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  • beyond description

    • To a great and astonishing extent.

      ‘his face was swollen beyond description’
      • ‘This time, the nightmarish anxiety alone was beyond description.’
      • ‘‘The thrill, the mad delirium of being free is beyond description,’ he writes.’
      • ‘It's a tragedy beyond description and I want the full country and the medical profession to realise just how dreadful this whole story is.’
      • ‘Wherever he went were piles of dust deep multiple inches deep, cobwebs of size beyond description, and heaps of rubble where the ceiling had collapsed or walls had caved in.’
      • ‘Her kindness, warmth and gentle nature went beyond description.’
      • ‘However, due to limited mobility, any entertainment that comes to them brings pleasure beyond description.’
      • ‘What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best.’
      • ‘Seeing people's lives changed and transformed is both exciting and rewarding beyond description.’
      • ‘And I'm certainly not worried about being in England - to be honest, I'm excited beyond description.’
      • ‘The sight was magnificent beyond description.’
  • defy description

    • Be so unusual or remarkable as to be impossible to describe.

      ‘the sheer scale of the Requiem defies description’
      • ‘It's all true, his work almost defies description, scene after vivid scene pulls you headlong through the pages and then suddenly, it's all over, and I really didn't want it to end.’
      • ‘The sheer wickedness of what you have done defies description.’
      • ‘The poverty and simplicity of these tribals defies description.’
      • ‘The courage shown by passengers in that flight defies description.’
      • ‘The bishop's statement continued as follows: ‘The extent and scale of the horror defies description.’’
      • ‘However, in this piece, she played a brash American, with an accent which defies description.’
      • ‘The prospects sound fabulous but seem to defy description.’
      • ‘That building is so ugly that it defies description.’
      • ‘The manner and magnitude of the attack defy description.’
      • ‘It's a psychological bond and a real establishment of a cultural commitment and connection that defies description.’


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin descriptio(n-), from describere ‘write down’.