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Latin dēscrīb-ĕre to copy off, transcribe, write down, write off, sketch off in writing or painting, mark off, etc., < de- + scrībĕre to write.


b : a descriptive statement or account
  • 2: kind or character especially as determined by salient features <opposed to any tax of so radical a description>


Description is one of four rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse), along with exposition, argumentation, and narration. Each of the rhetorical modes is present in a variety of forms and each has its own purpose and conventions.

Description is also the fiction-writing mode for transmitting a mental image of the particulars of a story.

The purpose of description is to re-create or visually present a person, place, event, or action so that the reader may picture that which is being described. Descriptive writing may be found in the other rhetorical modes.

The word description can be used interchangeably with the word theory in physics. When an observer is said to describe an event, experiment, or observation, this is a direct reference, which means a theory describes the event, experiment, or observation.