differentiate

verb

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

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
differentiable adjective

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 The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and militants killed. Aya Batrawy, NPR, 15 May 2024 The agency's figures don't differentiate civilians from combatants. Susan Miller, USA TODAY, 14 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for differentiate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'differentiate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1814, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of differentiate was in 1814

Dictionary Entries Near differentiate

Cite this Entry

“Differentiate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differentiate. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate ˌdif-ə-ˈren-chē-ˌāt How to pronounce differentiate (audio)
differentiated; differentiating
1
: to make or become different in some way
the color of their eyes differentiates the twins
2
: to undergo or cause to undergo differentiation in the course of development
3
: to see or state the difference or differences
differentiate between two plants

Medical Definition

differentiate

verb
dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​ate ˌdif-ə-ˈren-chē-ˌāt How to pronounce differentiate (audio)
differentiated; differentiating

transitive verb

1
: to constitute a difference that distinguishes
the history of the injury also differentiates these two fracturesJ. 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 antibodiesR. C. Gallo

More from Merriam-Webster on differentiate

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