Words related to define


active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.

As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.

finish (v.)
late 14c., "to bring to an end;" mid-15c., "to come to an end" (intransitive), from Old French finiss-, present participle stem of fenir "stop, finish, come to an end; die" (13c.), from Latin finire "to limit, set bounds; put an end to; come to an end," from finis "that which divides, a boundary, border," figuratively "a limit, an end, close, conclusion; an extremity, highest point; greatest degree," which is of unknown origin, perhaps related to figere "to fasten, fix" (see fix (v.)). Meaning "to kill, terminate the existence of" is from 1755.
definable (adj.)

"capable of being defined or explained," 1650s; see define + -able. Related: Definably; definability.

indefinable (adj.)
"incapable of being exactly described," 1721, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + definable (see define). Related: Indefinably.
indefinite (adj.)
1520s, "not precise, vague," from Latin indefinitus "indefinite," from in- "not, opposite of, without" (see in- (1)) + definitus, past participle of definire (see define). In reference to number, "The term was introduced by Pascal. Descartes distinguished between the indefinite, which has no particular limit, and the infinite which is incomparably greater than anything having a limit. The distinction is considered as highly important by many metaphysicians." [Century Dictionary]
predefine (v.)

"define or limit beforehand," 1540s, from pre- "before" + define (v.), or else from French predefinir or Medieval Latin *praedefinire. Related: Predefined; predefining; predefinition.

redefine (v.)

"define again," 1848, from re- + define. Related: Redefined; redefining; redefinition.

undefinable (adj.)
"indefinable," 1650s, from un- (1) "not" + definable (see define). Related: Undefinably; undefinability.
undefined (adj.)
1610s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of define (v.).