Definition of locate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Discover the exact place or position of.

    ‘engineers were working to locate the fault’
    • ‘Every British lighthouse doesn't just flash to warn ships of hazards, but also has its own flashing pattern which allows mariners to locate their position.’
    • ‘It takes two numbers to locate your position on a map, and one number to specify the distance above the map.’
    • ‘Its prime role is to measure the track geometry to locate faults such as spreading and twisting.’
    • ‘Bringing the pole down into a horizontal position, my right arm out behind me, locating the position of my left hand was easy.’
    • ‘As well as tracking all types of electronic transactions, it is able to reconstruct text messages months after they were sent and locate the exact position of users.’
    • ‘Following an unfruitful attempt to locate the exact original site, we chose a spot on Lake Champlain in the general area.’
    • ‘But this inevitably leads to the problem of locating the exact place of subjectivity.’
    • ‘Because forecasters always try to pinpoint the eye of the hurricane, this knowledge will help with locating the exact position and lead to better tracking.’
    • ‘Recovery of the buoy to which it was attached required several minutes of searching at its GPS deployment position to locate it.’
    • ‘Layout on the mud mats locates the position for the templates.’
    • ‘I've got work at my current job until the end of June, so at least I've got some buffer time to locate another position.’
    • ‘In this way the nervous system locates the position at which a stimulus is acting on the body.’
    • ‘The trajectory could then be plotted and extrapolated backwards so that its position could be located.’
    • ‘Part of the wonder of this lace construction for us is the process of discovery involved in locating each figure.’
    • ‘The observer locates the position of the OP on the map.’
    • ‘His work in this area was aimed at locating the position of enemy guns.’
    • ‘It was easy for us to locate the exact location of the incident.’
    • ‘Although I know several swims well I will always use the plumbing rod to locate the exact positions that I want to fish.’
    • ‘It took Buff almost nine months of intensive research - a lot of it in his own time - to locate the exact spot.’
    • ‘The laser sensor locates the positions of the leading and trailing edges of the tank, and the magnetic sensor provides confirmation of the position of the tank.’
    find, discover, pinpoint, detect, track down, run to earth, unearth, hit on, come across, reveal, bring to light, sniff out, smoke out, search out, ferret out, turn up, uncover, come up with, lay one's hands on, pin down
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    1. 1.1usually be located Situate in a particular place.
      ‘these popular apartments are centrally located’
      • ‘It was located on the site of previous castles dating back to the Middle Ages on a prominent ridge above the River Ness.’
      • ‘The capital, Zagreb, is centrally located but was not chosen for that reason.’
      • ‘The police station was located on the quiet road near the back door of Jiao Tong University.’
      • ‘The idea of locating the bulb centrally in the space rather than on a surface was suggested by my wife who pointed out to me the fixture hanging over my typewriter.’
      • ‘But it's a good place to be, it's centrally located to Gasoline Alley and everything else.’
      • ‘This can be best achieved by centrally locating critical devices in a secure data centre where possible.’
      • ‘At the same time, this new gallery at the Modern is centrally located just off the atrium.’
      • ‘The city's old Central Jail built during the British Raj was located very centrally.’
      • ‘The idea of the possible purchase of a Defibrillator to be centrally located in the town was met with approval.’
      • ‘Under each concrete cantilevered platform canopy, there is a centrally located waiting room.’
      • ‘The property, formerly a garage, is centrally located and convenient to all amenities.’
      • ‘The capital, Minsk, is the largest and one of the oldest cities in the region and is centrally located.’
      • ‘One factory was centrally located and it was fed cane from neighbouring plantations.’
      • ‘Living in cities is more popular and the more expensive flats and apartments are centrally located.’
      • ‘It is one of the oldest towns in Wiltshire, and is centrally located with many famous landmarks a short distance away.’
      • ‘There are two front cupolas, and vision blocks are located centrally on both sides.’
      • ‘The Academy is centrally located on Beretania and Victoria, and there is ample street parking.’
      • ‘Bank Street is centrally located and always appears to be very popular.’
      • ‘It will suit those seeking a centrally located house with an original layout and design.’
      • ‘The site was located in the middle of the village and was an infill development.’
      situate, site, position, place, base
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    2. 1.2 Place within a particular context.
      ‘they locate their policies in terms of wealth creation’
      • ‘The other, I hear, is about Jesus's blood family and locates him firmly within the revolutionary context of his age.’
      • ‘The exhibition ‘reconstructs the original creative and utopian potential of psychedelic art and locates it within the wider cultural and political context of the period’.’
      • ‘The literature review, then, allows you to locate your own research within a tradition of research in an area.’
      • ‘The importance of Collins's work is the panoramic context within which she locates black feminist thought.’
      • ‘I am puzzled because the current discussion on priestly celibacy within Roman Catholicism consistently locates the debate in the context of the diocesan, or secular, priesthood.’
      • ‘What Derrida does not do is locate this within the context of Heidegger's general strategy of university reform.’
      • ‘While Johnson does represent elderly female heads of households as aging and ailing individuals, she also carefully locates them within the context of their communities.’
      • ‘Further, Mansfield has embarked upon an intellectual quest, an adventure in locating Erasmus within the geography of twentieth-century thought.’
      • ‘Critical scholars will argue that the authors have taken the easy way out by not locating each text within a historical context.’
      • ‘My argument locates the blogosphere within the media apparatus, but on the reception side of the ‘media event’ of the election.’
      • ‘Parr succeeds in locating Domestic Goods within the context of existing scholarship on the related histories of design, manufacturing, and consumerism.’
      • ‘His grasp on the subject is never less than firm, and he successfully locates contributions within their historical and historiographical contexts, providing a valuable guide to a vast body of literature.’
      • ‘Thus he locates his thinking within a broader stream.’
      • ‘The book expands on the exhibition, placing the cartoons in chronological order and locating them within their historical context.’
      • ‘They locate their feminism within a complex progressive movement.’
      • ‘Similarly, Bartley locates Pankhurst's militancy within the context of a commitment to parliamentary democracy rather than revolutionary politics.’
      • ‘He did not reject science; rather his work was directed at grappling with science and locating it in specific contexts, be they constraints of material, place or function.’
      • ‘Looking at textual representations of ethnic identity in its own terms while also locating it within the larger cultural context can provide an ethnography of the written text.’
      • ‘His study of the Browning family trade locates the humble apple within a cultural and scientific context, stretching from the boffins mapping its genomes all the way back to Eve.’
      • ‘It means rescuing Britain from mid-Atlantic ambiguity and locating it within the European value system of public welfare and social solidarity.’
    3. 1.3North American no object, with adverbial of place Establish oneself or one's business in a specified place.
      ‘his marketing strategy has been to locate in small towns’
      • ‘There are many good reasons for the small independent business to locate in this area to benefit from the railway line.’
      • ‘As a result, many people and businesses are now able to locate nearly anywhere they choose.’
      • ‘Of interest is the fact that the major producers of cotton gins in the South did not locate in the larger towns.’
      • ‘Businesses locating here don't have to apply to a multitude of agencies for help, because we're the single agency.’
      • ‘This latter provision is designed to give state governments a role in specifying where they would like business migrants to locate.’
      • ‘Not only would this be unfair to the other two-thirds of New Zealanders, it is also inefficient because it would discourage businesses and people from locating in areas of lower congestion.’
      • ‘In all the development will include six commercial units which are large enough for most business or office type projects likely to locate in the town.’
      • ‘Businesses locating at the centre will enjoy the benefits of shared facilities, for example dedicated administration desk, canteen etc.’
      • ‘But the sale of the site and the possibility of new businesses locating on Swindon Road could inject some much needed capital into the local economy.’
      • ‘In relation to suitable businesses that might locate in the centre, Mr Marks said the forum has already been looking for suitable tenants.’
      • ‘It will offer the town a 20,000-person sewerage system, which will be a major influence for any perspective business that could be looking at locating in the town.’
      • ‘Look for property data to show special exemptions for new businesses that locate in new residential areas.’
      • ‘This could make Castlebar unattractive for some business to locate here.’
      • ‘It allows significant industry to come and locate in the town and is very important in the development of our Technological Park.’
      • ‘The council in turn has had to deal with huge losses in rates and a preference by businesses to locate on the Laois side of Graiguecullen where rates are cheaper.’
      • ‘It should start giving inducements that it now lavishes on businesses locating to the inner sanctums of Bradford to all outlying regions.’
      • ‘Business has opportunities to locate in a number of places.’
      • ‘Both schemes are de-signed to act as a catalyst to create thousands of jobs and dozens of major companies have already expressed an interest in locating on the two sites.’
      • ‘Businesses locating in the Centres will come from different sources.’
      • ‘On the first point, research shows that taxes are not necessarily the key factor in where people and businesses locate.’


In formal English, one should avoid using locate to mean ‘find (a missing object)’: he can't seem to locate his keys. In precise usage, locate means ‘discover the exact place or position of’ or ‘fix the position of, put in place’: the doctors hope to locate the source of the bleeding; the studio should be located on a north-facing slope


Early 16th century: from Latin locat- ‘placed’, from the verb locare, from locus ‘place’. The original sense was as a legal term meaning ‘let out on hire’, later (late 16th century) ‘assign to a particular place’, then (particularly in North American usage) ‘establish in a place’. The sense ‘discover the exact position of’ dates from the late 19th century.