differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate | \ˌdi-fə-ˈren(t)-shē-ˌāt \
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 \ noun
differentiable \-​ˈren(t)-​sh(ē-​)ə-​bəl \ 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

In comments to reporters, the president, who has spent years railing against Clinton’s use of private email for public business while secretary of state, sought to downplay — and differentiate — his daughter’s email use from his former opponent’s. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Congress to probe Ivanka Trump’s private email use in WH," 21 Nov. 2018 In some ways, this is the flip side of proliferation—by turning these cells away from differentiating and maturing, the mutations are promoting their continued growth. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Healthy tissues in older people carry a lot of cancer-promoting mutations," 26 Oct. 2018 The question is whether Iraq’s justice system can fairly differentiate between the two. Sophia Jones, Marie Claire, "The Truth About The Wives of ISIS," 4 Oct. 2018 The second flash is barely noticeable to human observers, but optical sensors known as bhangmeters can differentiate between single flash events, such as conventional explosions, and the double flash of a nuclear explosion. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Sheep Glands Point to Nukes as Source of Mysterious 1979 Explosion," 12 Sep. 2018 What Intel has done, however, is offer significantly higher turbo speeds as a way of differentiating the two families. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel's Whiskey Lake notebook chips will offer big turbo boosts to get you to upgrade," 10 Aug. 2018 And they're designed to be maneuverable, which differentiates them from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other fast-flying conventional weapons systems that follow predictable paths. Mike Wall, Space.com, "US Air Force Zooms Ahead on 2 New Hypersonic Weapons Plans," 20 Aug. 2018 And embracing those goals may also help Nestle, Mars, Unilever and Danone differentiate themselves from other large food companies. Caitlin Dewey, chicagotribune.com, "Four of the world's largest food companies have a new plan for fixing food and farm policy," 12 July 2018 And embracing those goals may also help Nestle, Mars, Unilever and Danone differentiate themselves from other large food companies. Caitlin Dewey, latimes.com, "Four of the biggest food companies band together to change food and farm policy," 12 July 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

4 Dec 2018

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 \
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 \
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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