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

Although the hotel is in the same building as the rest of the Park MGM resort complex, it’s filled with offerings that differentiate the space from your typical Vegas experience. Andrea Whittle, Condé Nast Traveler, "The New NoMad Las Vegas Breaks the Strip Stereotype," 9 Oct. 2018 Always keep your freelance profile exceptionally maintained, boast about the things that differentiate you from the competition, and if possible, include previous work examples, client testimonials, and recommendations. Jenny Knizner, USA TODAY, "How to Thrive in the Freelance Economy," 25 June 2018 But by the time Marshall got to the pre-dynastic Islanders, the architects of that squad were leaning on him to show younger players the work ethic needed to differentiate the best from worst. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Poulsbo resident, former defenseman Bert Marshall is keeping an eye on Seattle’s NHL decisions," 25 Mar. 2019 Cameras, meanwhile, are best at recognizing objects by differentiating between, say, a heavy motorcycle and a lightweight bicycle. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "Your Next Car Could Have Airbags That Inflate on the Outside," 15 Feb. 2019 Consider, too, going one step further by differentiating between the good, the bad, and the ugly (or chronic) types of stress. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Now, Experts Say Stress Can Be Good for Your Health—Really," 18 Dec. 2018 Color is a key tool in differentiating between those two sides of the story: the flashbacks and present-day look like two different shows. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "How Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House uses color to underscore its horror," 26 Oct. 2018 Wisconsin law differentiated between voters who were overseas temporarily and permanently, a distinction that decided how an individual received their absentee ballot. Max Bayer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin, U.S. Department of Justice reach agreement ensuring electronic absentee ballots," 22 June 2018 Bell's, based in the Kalamazoo area, remains an independent craft brewery by the guidelines of the Brewers Association, the craft-brewers trade organization that has increasingly sought to differentiate between independent and big beer. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "Craft beer made in Bud Light tanks: The story of 'Selling Out'," 1 June 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

22 May 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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