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

Reuss said the company made a conscious decision to differentiate. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "GMC unveils Sierra Denali, SLT pickups: 'Very sophisticated, very elegant'," 1 Mar. 2018 Half bent over, in helmets and matching skintight navy-blue suits, thirty-year-old Olsen—the gold-medalist push man turned pilot—and his teammates are nearly impossible to differentiate from each other. Nick Pachelli, Esquire, "Justin Olsen Will Get Lost," 8 Feb. 2018 If your child verbalizes this, you may be tempted to differentiate Sara and Charlie's relationship from your own and to discuss the shifting dynamics in romantic unions. Valerie Frankel, Good Housekeeping, "Answering the Trickiest Questions," 8 June 2012 Somatic cells are those in the body that have already differentiated—lung cells or blood cells or liver cells, for example. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Legal vs. Illegal Gene Editing: Here's What's Banned, and Why," 4 Dec. 2018 Auger researchers are currently working out exactly how to differentiate them from cosmic rays. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 The Democrats have struggled to differentiate themselves and have focused more on attacking Hogan than one another. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, "Meet the Democrats running for Maryland governor," 13 June 2018 To stand out from the pack in the investment world — but particularly in bond investing — great managers must make moves that differentiate themselves from the crowd. Chuck Jaffe, The Seattle Times, "Has legendary fund manager lost his touch?," 6 June 2018 Two things that differentiate NASCAR from all other sports, Paddock said, is a sense of community and the access this sport uniquely delivers. Annie Alleman, chicagotribune.com, "NASCAR returns to Joliet's Chicago Speedway," 13 May 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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Last Updated

16 Jan 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 \
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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