differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate | \ ˌdi-fə-ˈren(t)-shē-ˌāt How to pronounce differentiate (audio) \
differentiated; differentiating

Definition of differentiate

transitive verb

1 mathematics : to obtain the mathematical derivative (see derivative entry 1 sense 3) of
2 : to mark or show a difference in : constitute a contrasting element that distinguishes features that differentiate the twins how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors
3 : to develop differential or distinguishing characteristics in What differentiated a laborer from another man …— Sherwood Anderson
4 biology : to cause differentiation (see differentiation sense 3b) of in the course of development cells that are differentiated from stem cells
5 : to express the specific distinguishing quality of : discriminate differentiate poetry and prose

intransitive verb

1 : to recognize or give expression to a difference difficult to differentiate between the two
2 : to become distinct or different in character
3 biology : to undergo differentiation (see differentiation sense 3b) when the cells begin to differentiate

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Other Words from differentiate

differentiability \ -​ˌren(t)-​sh(ē-​)ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce differentiability (audio) \ noun
differentiable \ -​ˈren(t)-​sh(ē-​)ə-​bəl How to pronounce differentiable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for differentiate

Synonyms

difference, discern, discriminate, distinguish, secern, separate

Antonyms

confuse, mistake, mix (up)

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Examples of differentiate in a Sentence

The only thing that differentiates the twins is the color of their eyes. it was hard at first to differentiate between the two styles of music

Recent Examples on the Web

The report doesn’t differentiate between regular and temporary employees, who are about 15 percent of the workforce. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Seattle city workers tell of unfair treatment and mistrust, as government tracks diversity shortfalls," 13 Aug. 2018 Despite this, the new in-game purchase label doesn't differentiate between those kinds of loot boxes and other kinds of downloadable content. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "ESRB defends “fun” loot boxes as it starts labeling all “in-game purchases” [Updated]," 27 Feb. 2018 Some former employees and analysts suggest a more radical change: End Apple’s one-size-fits-all-markets approach for products and aggressively push to differentiate its gadgets and software in China from its offerings elsewhere. Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "Apple’s China Problem May Require a New iPhone," 30 Jan. 2019 A few years ago, researchers revealed a technology called the Halo x-ray system, which allows baggage screeners to not only see items in suitcases and packages but can differentiate between substances, like shampoo and nitroglycerin. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Check Out These Awesome New 3D, Full-Color X-Rays," 13 July 2018 An all-new flagship lineup Screen size isn't the only way Samsung is differentiating the three phones. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Samsung Galaxy S10 renders show hole-punch camera, headphone jack, and no fingerprint sensor," 13 Dec. 2018 That’s really important for a game like this where the characters are all fundamentally controlled the same way, and don’t have move sets to differentiate them like, say, the cast of Street Fighter. Michael Moore, The Verge, "Lethal League Blaze turns handball into a stylish fighting game," 9 Dec. 2018 One update that absolutely differentiates Smash Ultimate from Smash 4 has not been lost on pro players: an improved suite of dash options, which now includes directional air-dodging and dash-canceling. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate review: The best fighting game on any Nintendo system," 6 Dec. 2018 Today, startups trying to differentiate themselves from the pack are pushing into groovier (though still highly legible) territory. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "How the Great Recession influenced a decade of design," 27 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'differentiate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of differentiate

1814, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for differentiate

probably borrowed from Medieval Latin differentiātus, past participle of differentiāre "to distinguish" (New Latin in mathematical sense), verbal derivative of Latin differentia difference entry 1

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Statistics for differentiate

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for differentiate

The first known use of differentiate was in 1814

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More Definitions for differentiate

differentiate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of differentiate

: to make (someone or something) different in some way
: to see or state the difference or differences between two or more things

differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate | \ ˌdi-fə-ˈren-shē-ˌāt How to pronounce differentiate (audio) \
differentiated; differentiating

Kids Definition of differentiate

1 : to make or become different What differentiates the cars?
2 : to recognize or state the difference between I can't differentiate the two colors.

differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate | \ ˌdif-ə-ˈren-chē-ˌāt How to pronounce differentiate (audio) \
differentiated; differentiating

Medical Definition of differentiate

transitive verb

1 : to constitute a difference that distinguishes the history of the injury also differentiates these two fractures— J. S. Keene et al
2 : to cause differentiation of in the course of development
3 : to discriminate or give expression to a specific difference that distinguishes quickly learned to differentiate sharp pain from dull pain
4 : to cause differentiation in (a specimen for microscopic examination) by staining

intransitive verb

1 : to recognize or express a difference differentiate between humans and the rest of the primates
2 : to undergo differentiation when a B cell matures, it differentiates into a plasma cell that secretes antibodies— R. C. Gallo

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