Definition of designate in English:



  • 1 Appoint (someone) to a specified position.

    ‘he was designated as prime minister’
    • ‘The contractor must designate a competent person to assess the excavation and determine that it is safe for project personnel to enter and work.’
    • ‘If the parent is fit to take care of a child, here in family court, you designate that parent as the guardian.’
    • ‘The captain designates people to that position in the hopes of improving the ship's moral.’
    • ‘Thus, you have no right to designate some person to initiate force against others on your behalf.’
    • ‘The person reached by telephone was asked whether he or she could speak for the family or if he or she would designate someone else.’
    • ‘If possible in your family situation, designate someone to gather and disseminate expert news from the internet.’
    • ‘We are now planning to designate one person in the company to undergo the stipulated training instead of all the directors.’
    • ‘Financial experts suggest consulting a professional to create a detailed estate plan, which will put in writing where you want assets to go and designate a family member, relative, or trusted adult to execute it.’
    • ‘On most shows, the producers designate someone - often, themselves - as the judges.’
    • ‘In many parts of the country, gays and lesbians could not designate their partners as beneficiaries under employee medical and dental benefits, insurance policies or private pensions.’
    • ‘Ask your folks to prepare or update a will and designate a family member to handle medical and financial affairs.’
    • ‘Power of attorney is a legal device in which an elder will designate another person to act in his or her stead.’
    • ‘Each group is led by a facilitator and views and ideas of the group are recorded by one designated member.’
    • ‘Their draft code urges each organisation to set up and publish details of a system for dealing with complaints; and to appoint or designate a member of staff to act as ombudsman.’
    • ‘The president has signed a military order, designating me, as secretary of defense, to be responsible for a military commission or tribunal, in the event one is required.’
    • ‘An indorsement in blank is one in which the indorser does not designate a specific person as the one to whom the bill is to be payable.’
    • ‘Since local phone lines are often down or congested during natural disasters, designate family members in other parts of the country as contacts to track the status and location of those affected.’
    • ‘So designating the father as the titular head of the family seemed to compensate in small measure for this power imbalance.’
    • ‘When selling small valuables, such as jewelry, it's best to designate one person to watch over the table.’
    • ‘The president should not designate a prime minister for the political purposes of winning in the local elections or managing careers for a future presidential candidate.’
    appoint, nominate, depute, delegate
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    1. 1.1Officially assign a specified status or ascribe a specified name or quality to.
      [with object and complement] ‘certain schools are designated “science schools”’
      ‘a personality disorder that Adler designates the Ruling Type’
      • ‘Women must enter city buses by separate rear entrances and sit in specially designated sections.’
      • ‘More than 10 per cent of companies polled have designated smoking areas within the office.’
      • ‘Every day he cycled to the newly designated high-tech zone seeking approval to build his business there.’
      • ‘In Belarus over 1.5 million people still live in officially designated contaminated territories.’
      • ‘Two conservation areas have been specifically designated to protect important field wall systems.’
      • ‘Indeed, nationwide, ranchers are allowed to drive into federally designated wilderness.’
      • ‘The neighborhood has been newly designated as a historic zone.’
      • ‘"There is no designated parking in the village and traffic is a problem.’
      • ‘In January 2005 the agency eliminated all but 8,300 acres of the 21,000 acres previously designated as critical habitat.’
      • ‘The engineering status will be designated to the school from September.’
      • ‘Recently more than 350 new critical habitats have been designated, the researchers wrote.’
      • ‘The Official Plan also designates this site to be " residential".’
      • ‘Perhaps it might increase the awareness of the problem if we were officially to designate a day in the year in testimony to them.’
      • ‘The land is partly designated for housing, partly for education and is part open space.’
      • ‘We follow the general rules of zebrafish nomenclature for designating locus and allele names.’
      • ‘The area of land has been designated suitable for individual or mass flat construction and civil services.’
      • ‘Industrial incubators are specially designated areas that provided SMEs with tools and resources to assist them run their businesses.’
      • ‘There are several ‘Petrified Forests’ that have been designated National Treasures in the United States.’
      • ‘The land is not designated for housing, and I understand the fence is extremely unsightly.’
      • ‘The Iron Age site was recently designated as Swindon fourth official local nature reserve.’
      classify, class, pronounce, label, tag
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    2. 1.2Signify; indicate.
      ‘the term “brainstem” designates the medulla, pons, and mesencephalon’
      • ‘The term "memorial" designates a declaration or petition addressed to the President for transmission to The Regents.’
      • ‘Although the term "chapbook" was not coined until the early nineteenth century, the term designates works of popular literature sold for a few pence.’
      • ‘In anatomy, the term "brain" designates the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system that is enclosed within the cranium, continuous with the spinal cord, and composed of grey matter and white matter.’
      • ‘The term 'glycoglycerolipid' may be used to designate glycolipids containing one or more glycerol residues.’
      • ‘Another use of the term engraving designates an impression made from an engraved plate.’


  • [postpositive] Appointed to an office or position but not yet installed.

    ‘the Director designate’
    • ‘In a major shake-up of management, chief operations office becomes chief executive designate.’
    • ‘Much has been made of the suggestion that the supposedly moderate prime minister designate intends to disband the militias.’
    • ‘Our cameras now take you to the Central Polling Office to hear from the Prime Minister designate.’
    • ‘He was appointed director designate in February, but was originally not to take over until December.’
    • ‘Any company using less than their free allowance will be able to sell the balance under the scheme to which over 100 countries have signed up, including all EU states as well as the designate members.’


Mid 17th century (as an adjective): from Latin designatus designated past participle of designare, based on signum a mark The verb dates from the late 18th century.