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Word of the Day : November 4, 2011

discriminate

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verb diss-KRIM-uh-nayt

Definition

1 a : to see the special features of

b : to perceive a difference in : differentiate

2 : to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; especially : to distinguish from another like object

3 : to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit

Examples

One of the important skills for judging a dog show is the ability to discriminate between dozens of breeds.

"Landlords are forbidden to discriminate against the unemployed." -- From a column by Martin Eichner in the Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2011



Did You Know?

Although many methods or motives for discriminating are unfair and undesirable (or even illegal), the verb itself has a neutral history. English speakers borrowed it from the past participle of the Latin verb "discriminare," itself from the verb "discernere," meaning "to distinguish between." "Discernere," in turn, was formed by combining the prefix "dis-" and "cernere" ("to sift"). Other descendants of "discernere" include "discern" and "discernible" (as you no doubt guessed), "discreet," and "indiscretion." In addition, the root "cernere" gives us "concern," "certain," "decree," and even "secret."



Test Your Memory

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