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From Middle English bilden, bulden, bylden, from Old English byldan and bytlan, bytlian (to build), from Proto-West Germanic *buþlijan (to build), from Proto-Germanic *buþlą, *bōþlą (house, dwelling, farm), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰuH- (to become, grow, thrive, be, live, dwell). Related to Old English botl (building, house). More at bottle.



build (third-person singular simple present builds, present participle building, simple past and past participle built or (archaic or poetic) builded)

  1. (transitive) To form (something) by combining materials or parts.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book IV, Canto X”, in The Faerie Queene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: [] [Richard Field] for William Ponsonby, OCLC 932900760, stanza 6, page 140:
      It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wize, / With curious Corbes and pendants grauen faire, [...]
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619, page 16:
      Athelstan Arundel walked home all the way, foaming and raging. No omnibus, cab, or conveyance ever built could contain a young man in such a rage. His mother lived at Pembridge Square, which is four good measured miles from Lincoln's Inn.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      A chap named Eleazir Kendrick and I had chummed in together the summer afore and built a fish-weir and shanty at Setuckit Point, down Orham way. For a spell we done pretty well.
  2. (transitive) To develop or give form to (something) according to a plan or process.
    • 2013 June 21, Oliver Burkeman, “The tao of tech”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 27:
      The dirty secret of the internet is that all this distraction and interruption is immensely profitable. Web companies like to boast about […], or offering services that let you [...] "share the things you love with the world" and so on. But the real way to build a successful online business is to be better than your rivals at undermining people's control of their own attention.
  3. (transitive) To increase or strengthen (something) by adding gradually to.
    • 2013 July 20, “The attack of the MOOCs”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Since the launch early last year of […] two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.
  4. (transitive) To establish a basis for (something).
  5. (intransitive) To form by combining materials or parts.
  6. (intransitive) To develop in magnitude or extent.
  7. (transitive, computing) To construct (software) by compiling its source code.
  8. (intransitive, computing, of source code) To be converted into software by compilation, usually with minimal human intervention.
    This code won’t build any more. Have you made any changes?

Usage notes[edit]

  • The simple past tense and past participle used to be builded; however, that form is now archaic, having been superseded by the form built.
    I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps / They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps. (Julia Ward Howe, Battle Hymn of the Republic - 1861)




Derived terms[edit]



build (countable and uncountable, plural builds)

  1. (countable, uncountable) The physique of a human or animal body, or other object; constitution or structure.
    Rugby players are of sturdy build.
  2. (computing, countable) Any of various versions of a software product as it is being developed for release to users.
    The computer company has introduced a new prototype build to beta testers.
  3. (gaming, slang, countable) A structure, such as a building, statue, pool or forest, or a configuration of a character's items or skills, created by the player.
    I made a build that looked like the Parthenon in that game.
    • 2005, Bill Slavicsek, Richard Baker, Dungeons & Dragons For Dummies (page 279)
      In fact, thousands of D&D players constantly debate the virtues of various character builds (combinations of race, class, feat, and spell choices) and share their efforts with each other in hundreds of message boards and mailing lists.