Design as a noun informally refers to a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system (as in architectural blueprints, engineering drawing, business process, circuit diagrams and sewing patterns) while “to design” (verb) refers to making this plan. No generally-accepted definition of “design” exists, and the term has different connotations in different fields (see design disciplines below). However, one can also design by directly constructing an object (as in pottery, engineering, management, cowboy coding and graphic design).
More formally, design has been defined as follows.
(noun) a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints;
(verb, transitive) to create a design, in an environment (where the designer operates)
Here, a "specification" can be manifested as either a plan or a finished product and "primitives" are the elements from which the design object is composed.
With such a broad denotation, there is no universal language or unifying institution for designers of all disciplines. This allows for many differing philosophies and approaches toward the subject.