differentiate

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

Essential Meaning of differentiate

1 : to make (someone or something) different in some way The only thing that differentiates the twins is the color of their eyes.
2 : to see or state the difference or differences between two or more things

Full 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

Other Words from differentiate

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for differentiate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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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 Some visitors to the shop struggled to differentiate between a bookstore and a public library, urging the owners to give out the books for free. Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2021 Austria, which has also seen record daily-infection rates in recent days, is seeking to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people in imposing restrictions. oregonlive, 14 Nov. 2021 Germany’s neighbor Austria, which has also seen record daily-infection rates in recent days, is seeking to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people in imposing restrictions. Erik Kirschbaum, Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2021 Detectives marked bullet holes in homes to differentiate between gunfire tied to the homicide and older shootings, said Del Toro, who oversees the Southeastern Division police station. San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Oct. 2021 The study used video footage to analyze great white sharks' perception and ability to differentiate objects underwater like rectangular floats, humans swimming, humans paddling surfboards, and pinnipeds — including sea lions and seals. Vanessa Etienne, PEOPLE.com, 27 Oct. 2021 This also includes the ability to differentiate business-as-usual customers from people who have taken up repayment assistance measures and to actively monitor them. Mohan Jayaraman, Forbes, 20 Oct. 2021 People told that everything the government and the media say is a lie don't have the ability -- or the inclination -- to differentiate. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 23 Aug. 2021 Compared to other non-human species, their ability to differentiate shapes -- given the comparative size of their brains -- is truly befuddling. Arkansas Online, 15 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for differentiate

Time Traveler

The first known use of differentiate was in 1814

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Dictionary Entries Near differentiate

differential windlass

differentiate

differentiation

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Statistics for differentiate

Last Updated

20 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Differentiate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differentiate. Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for differentiate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on differentiate

Nglish: Translation of differentiate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of differentiate for Arabic Speakers

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