Reusable solutions for commonly occurring problems in user interface and user experience design.
In software engineering, a design pattern is a general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem in software design. A design pattern is not a finished design that can be transformed directly into code. It is a description or template for how to solve a problem that can be used in many different situations. Object-oriented design patterns typically show relationships and interactions between classes or objects, without specifying the final application classes or objects that are involved
Reference: Wikipedia article about 'Design pattern', retrieved 2011-04-24