Words related to describe


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-.


*skrībh-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut, separate, sift;" an extended form of root *sker- (1) "to cut."

It forms all or part of: ascribe; ascription; circumscribe; conscript; conscription; describe; description; festschrift; inscribe; inscription; manuscript; postscript; prescribe; prescription; proscribe; sans-serif; scribble; scribe; script; scriptorium; scripture; scrivener; serif; shrift; shrive; subscribe; superscribe; superscript; transcribe; scarification; scarify.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek skariphasthai "to scratch an outline, sketch;" Latin scribere "to write" (to carve marks in wood, stone, clay, etc.); Lettish skripat "scratch, write;" Old Norse hrifa "scratch."

describable (adj.)

"able to be described, capable of description," 1670s; see describe + -able.

descry (v.1)

c. 1300, descriven, "to see, discern," probably from Old French descrier "publish, proclaim, announce" (Modern French décrier), from Latin describere "to write down, copy" (see describe). From mid-14c. as "detect, find out, discover" (something concealed), also "discover by vision, get sight of." Since early 15c. the word has been more or less confused with descry (v.2). Related: Descried; descrying.

indescript (adj.)

"undescribed," 1831, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + Latin descriptus, past participle of describere "to write down, copy; sketch, represent" (see describe).

nondescript (adj.)

also non-descript, 1680s, in scientific usage, "not hitherto described" (a sense now obsolete), coined from non- "not" + Latin descriptus, past participle of describere "to write down, copy; sketch, represent" (see describe). General sense of "not easily described or classified," hence "of no particular kind," is from 1806.

scribe (v.)

mid-15c., scriben, "to write," from Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut"). The carpentry sense "mark or score with (an outline)" is from 1670s, of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortening of describe. Related: Scribed; scriber; scribing.