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

Example Sentences

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 To differentiate between the different types of verified accounts, Twitter Blue users will have a blue checkmark next to their name. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 12 Dec. 2022 The tools used by platforms to scan for child abuse struggle to differentiate between a consenting adult and an unconsenting child, according to Arda Gerkens, who runs the Dutch foundation EOKM, which reports CSAM online. WIRED, 28 Nov. 2022 Incredibly sensitive measurements were needed to differentiate between the two water configurations. Lars Fischer, Scientific American, 3 Oct. 2022 Smart living solutions complement operator broadband portfolios with life-enriching home automation capabilities that boost data usage and present new revenue opportunities for service providers to differentiate their offerings. Natasha Tamaskar, Forbes, 7 June 2022 The iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro models will have different designs, which is something Apple has done before to differentiate between cheaper and more expensive models. Chris Smith, BGR, 30 May 2022 The political movement calls for the federal government to give Black Americans their own racial category on the census and applications for colleges, jobs, etc., to differentiate between them and us. Rita Omokha, ELLE, 14 Apr. 2022 In that vein, the 24-hour index on the flange is separated into white and black sections to differentiate between night and day. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 14 Sep. 2021 Meanwhile, synthetic biologists — researchers who take an engineering approach to the study of life — made important progress in understanding the kinds of genetic algorithms that control how cells differentiate in response to chemical cues. John Rennie, Quanta Magazine, 21 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

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 27 Jan. 2023.

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

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