Definition of delineate in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈlɪnɪeɪt/


[with object]
1Describe or portray (something) precisely: the law should delineate and prohibit behaviour which is socially abhorrent
More example sentences
  • He describes the sociological evidence delineating the impact of fatherlessness upon children.
  • The Hindu religious texts describe varna ashrama dharma, the religious/social law delineating duties of four castes.
  • It is precisely this awareness that delineates a separation between spectator and performer as insider/outsider.
describe, set forth, set out, present, outline, depict, portray, represent, characterize;
map out, chart;
define, detail, specify, identify, particularize
literary limn
2Indicate the exact position of (a border or boundary): his finger found a precisely outlined section delineated in red marker
More example sentences
  • The blue outline delineates the border of the Greenland ice sheet.
  • Because the two institutions stand apart, they can decide whether to recognize the legitimacy of the other but they cannot delineate each others boundaries.
  • This could be a fault that delineates the present-day eastern boundary of the West Siberian Basin.
outline, trace, draw the lines of, draw, sketch, block in, mark (out/off), delimit, mark the boundaries/limits of



Pronunciation: /dɪˈlɪnɪeɪtə/
Example sentences
  • The chief delineator, though, is the number of coffee purchases required before getting the freebie.
  • The addition of these features would make the books more useful to wetland delineators.
  • Worth bearing in mind also that without a more strict delineator than ‘mainstream’, it's very difficult to talk accurately about the conception of divinity in the ‘Christian church’.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'trace the outline of something'): from Latin delineat- 'outlined', from the verb delineare, from de- 'out, completely' + lineare (from linea 'line').

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de|lin¦eate

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