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

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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 The idea of white building materials was to differentiate the apartment building from townhomes and single-family homes in the subdivision and give the building its own identity, Brooker said. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, 28 Sep. 2021 For starters, the government report did not differentiate between English-language and Spanish-language media companies. Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2021 The bill does not explicitly differentiate between the two methods of learning related to funding. Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, 10 Sep. 2021 Philosophically, Dussart does not differentiate between working with seasoned veterans and emerging talents. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 7 Sep. 2021 One of the immune system’s most critical jobs is to differentiate between the body’s own cells and those of outside invaders to prevent accidental attacks on itself. Matthew Woodruff, Quartz, 26 Aug. 2021 One of the immune system’s most critical jobs is to differentiate between the body’s own cells and those of outside invaders to prevent accidental attacks on itself. Matthew Woodruff, The Conversation, 25 Aug. 2021 The sample did not differentiate between likely and unlikely voters in a special election. oregonlive, 20 July 2021 Whether a company’s motivation is to differentiate itself in a noisy market, increase user engagement, or create greater efficacy, future-facing wellness platforms are starting to sing along. Frank Fitzpatrick, Forbes, 1 June 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

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

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