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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Meanwhile, a September Centers for Disease Control report found that people who tested positive for the virus were twice as likely to have eaten as a restaurant recently, though this study didn’t differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "Indoor dining is getting shut down across the Bay Area," 13 Nov. 2020 The three finalists, who all come from outside the Milwaukee Police Department, sought to differentiate themselves in their first interactions with the public. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Finalists for Milwaukee police chief field questions from public in online forum," 8 Nov. 2020 This subscription sends you a box of four different roasts, with only the roast date and a five-digit number to differentiate them. Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored, "The best coffee subscriptions of 2020," 29 Oct. 2020 Studies had indicated that some water-like material was present but couldn't differentiate between water and a hydroxyl group (OH), which could exist in some minerals. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Water found in new locations on the Moon, may be trapped in glass," 26 Oct. 2020 Ant tried to differentiate itself from its nemesis. Jing Yang And Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, "Ant Group’s Giant IPOs Set to Launch After Regulators Clear the Way," 21 Oct. 2020 Trump and his administration’s environment and energy officials have sought to differentiate their agenda by touting conservation and efforts to clean up air and water pollution. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: US LNG could face pressure from EU’s new methane plans," 14 Oct. 2020 Polestar will continue to draw from the broader family for components that don't differentiate the brand while its researchers and engineers, while researching in new areas, also find ways to improve on or alter what the group offers. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Electric carmaker Polestar prepares to leave Volvo behind," 9 Oct. 2020 Both differentiate themselves from other digital advertising platforms, such as Google’s AdSense, by specifically focusing on increasing web traffic to other webpages, not to services or products. Daniel Hanley, Wired, "Ad Mergers Won't Save Journalism. Strict Merger Rules Would," 10 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about differentiate

Time Traveler for differentiate

Time Traveler

The first known use of differentiate was in 1814

See more words from the same year

Statistics for differentiate

Last Updated

19 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Differentiate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differentiate. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for differentiate

differentiate

verb
How to pronounce differentiate (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on differentiate

What made you want to look up differentiate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!