Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

state - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     state pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] [usually singular] the condition of something at a particular time
    the state of:

    We’re collecting data on the state of the environment.

    a state of:

    The country is drifting into a state of chaos.

    a sorry state (=a very bad condition):

    The British transport system is in a bit of a sorry state.

    1. a.
      a particular physical form that something has, especially when this can change

      The curators believe the painting can be restored to its original state.

    2. b.
      [singular] the physical or mental condition of someone at a particular time, usually when this is bad in some way

      A friend found the girl in the street in a distressed state.

      state of:

      The impact seemed to startle him into a state of panic.

      in an awful/dreadful/terrible state:

      By the time he got home, he was in a terrible state.

  2. 2
    [countable] a nation, or a country
    1. a.
      [countable] a region of a country that has its own government for some matters. A country that is divided into states is called a federal country

      The State of Michigan had revoked the licence.

  3. 3
    [uncountable] the government of a country

    Should the state play a bigger role in industry?

    See also head of state
  4. 4

    the States

    informal the United States of America
  5. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    be in a state to be nervous and upset

    She was in a state on the day of her driving test.

    Submitted by Boris Marchenko from Russian Federation on 03/02/2016
  6. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    be in a state to be in disorder

    The room was in a state as the children had been playing there.

    Submitted by Boris Marchenko from Russian Federation on 03/02/2016
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play