Etymology: French développer, from Old French desveloper, desvoluper to unwrap, expose, from des- de- + envoloper to enclose — more at envelop
a. to set forth or make clear by degrees or in detail ; expound <develop a thesis> b. to make visible or manifest c. to treat (as in dyeing) with an agent to cause the appearance of color d. to subject (exposed photograph material) especially to chemicals in order to produce a visible image <develop film>; also to make visible by such a method <develop pictures> e. to elaborate (a musical idea) by the working out of rhythmic and harmonic changes in the theme 2. a. to work out the possibilities of <develop an idea> b. to create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time <develop new ways of doing business> <develop software> 3. a. to make active or promote the growth of <developed his muscles> b. (1) to make available or usable <develop natural resources> (2) to make suitable for commercial or residential purposes <develop land> c. to move (as a chess piece) from the original position to one providing more opportunity for effective use 4. a. to cause to unfold gradually <developed his argument> b. to expand by a process of growth <working to develop the company further> c. to cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind <rain and sun develop the grain> d. to become infected or affected by <developed pneumonia> 5. to acquire gradually <develop an appreciation for ballet> intransitive verb 1. a. to go through a process of natural growth, differentiation, or evolution by successive changes <a blossom develops from a bud> b. to acquire secondary sex characteristics 2. to become gradually manifest 3. to come into being gradually <; also turn out 2a <it developed that no one had paid the bill> • developable adjective
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.