1. undergoing development; growing; evolving.
  2. (of a nation or geographical area) having a standard of living or level of industrial production well below that possible with financial or technical aid; not yet highly industrialized: the developing world.

verb (used with object)

  1. to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state: to develop natural resources; to develop one’s musical talent.
  2. to cause to grow or expand: to develop one’s muscles.
  3. to elaborate or expand in detail: to develop a theory.
  4. to bring into being or activity; generate; evolve.
  5. Drafting. to transfer the details of (a more or less two-dimensional design, pattern, or the like) from one surface, especially one that is prismatic or cylindrical, onto another, usually planar, in such a way that the distances between points remain the same.
  6. Biology.
    1. to cause to go through the process of natural evolution from a previous and lower stage.
    2. to cause to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.
  7. Mathematics. to express in an extended form, as in a series.
  8. Music. to unfold, by various technical means, the inherent possibilities of (a theme).
  9. Photography.
    1. to render visible (the latent image on an exposed film or the like).
    2. to treat (an exposed film or the like) with chemicals so as to render the latent image visible.
  10. Chess. to bring (a piece) into effective play, especially during the initial phase of a game when pieces are moved from their original position on the board: He developed his rook by castling.
  11. Mining. to prepare (a new mine) for working by digging access openings and building necessary structures.

verb (used without object)

  1. to grow into a more mature or advanced state; advance; expand: She is developing into a good reporter.
  2. to come gradually into existence or operation; be evolved.
  3. to be disclosed; become evident or manifest: The plot of the novel developed slowly.
  4. to undergo developing, as a photographic film.
  5. Biology.
    1. to progress from an embryonic to an adult form.
    2. to progress from earlier to later stages of ontogeny or phylogeny.
    3. to reach sexual maturity.


  1. to come or bring to a later or more advanced or expanded stage; grow or cause to grow gradually
  2. (tr) to elaborate or work out in detail
  3. to disclose or unfold (thoughts, a plot, etc) gradually or (of thoughts, etc) to be gradually disclosed or unfolded
  4. to come or bring into existence; generate or be generatedhe developed a new faith in God
  5. (intr often foll by from) to follow as a result (of); ensue (from)a row developed following the chairman’s remarks
  6. (tr) to contract (a disease or illness)
  7. (tr) to improve the value or change the use of (land), as by building
  8. (tr) to exploit or make available the natural resources of (a country or region)
  9. (tr) photog
    1. to treat (film, plate, or paper previously exposed to light, or the latent image in such material) with chemical solutions in order to produce a visible image
    2. to process (photographic material) in order to produce negatives and prints
  10. biology to progress or cause to progress from simple to complex stages in the growth of an individual or the evolution of a species
  11. (tr) to elaborate upon (a musical theme) by varying the melody, key, etc
  12. (tr) maths to expand (a function or expression) in the form of a series
  13. (tr) geometry to project or roll out (a surface) onto a plane without stretching or shrinking any element
  14. chess to bring (a piece) into play from its initial position on the back rank
  15. (tr) obsolete to disclose or reveal

1650s, “unroll, unfold,” from French développer, replacing English disvelop (1590s, from Middle French desveloper), both from Old French desveloper “unwrap, unfurl, unveil; reveal the meaning of, explain,” from des- “undo” + veloper “wrap up,” of uncertain origin, possibly Celtic or Germanic. Modern figurative use is 18c. The photographic sense is from 1845; the real estate sense is from 1890.


  1. To progress from earlier to later stages of a life cycle.
  2. To progress from earlier to later or from simpler to more complex stages of evolution.
  3. To aid in the growth of; strengthen.
  4. To grow by degrees into a more advanced or mature state.
  5. To become affected with a disease; contract.

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