Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To change in form or character; alter.
  • transitive v. To make less extreme, severe, or strong: refused to modify her stand on the issue.
  • transitive v. Grammar To qualify or limit the meaning of. For example, summer modifies day in the phrase a summer day.
  • transitive v. Linguistics To change (a vowel) by umlaut.
  • intransitive v. To be or become modified; change.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make partial changes to.
  • v. To be or become modified.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To change somewhat the form or qualities of; to change a part of something while leaving most parts unchanged; to alter somewhat
  • transitive v. To limit or reduce in extent or degree; to moderate; to qualify; to lower.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To qualify; especially, to moderate or reduce in extent or degree.
  • To change the properties, form, or function of; give a new form to; alter slightly or not very much; vary: as, to modify the terms of a contract; a prefix modifies the sense of a word; light is modified by its transmission through certain media.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. add a modifier to a constituent
  • v. make less severe or harsh or extreme
  • v. cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

Etymologies

Middle English modifien, from Old French modifier, from Latin modificāre, to measure, limit : modus, measure; see med- in Indo-European roots + -ficāre, -fy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English modifien, from French modifier, from Latin modificare ("to limit, control, regulate, deponent"), from modificari ("to measure off, set bound to, moderate"), from modus ("measure") + facere ("to make"); see mode. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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