dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​a·​tion | \ ˌdi-fə-ˌren(t)-shē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce differentiation (audio) \

Definition of differentiation

1 : the act or process of differentiating
2 : development from the one to the many, the simple to the complex, or the homogeneous to the heterogeneous differentiation of Latin into vernaculars

3 biology

a : modification of body parts for performance of particular functions
b : the sum of the processes whereby apparently indifferent (see indifferent sense 7) or unspecialized cells, tissues, and structures attain their adult form and function
4 geology : the processes by which various rock types are produced from a common magma

Examples of differentiation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That could mean Northern Ireland following some EU rules while the rest of the U.K. diverges, a differentiation strongly opposed by the small Northern Irish party that gives Theresa May her slim majority in Parliament. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, "U.K. Parliament’s Vote on Brexit Deal Explained," 14 Jan. 2019 Competition, innovation, and differentiation brings more interest into the category from consumers. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Constant Innovation in a Culture of Inclusivity: A Conversation With Tapestry CEO Victor Luis," 30 Jan. 2019 Are consumers able to opt-in or opt-out of traffic differentiation? Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Wireless throttling: Senators ask four major carriers about video slowdowns," 15 Nov. 2018 For years, Lincolns have been fancier Fords without much by way of differentiation, other than extra equipment or power. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Lincoln Continental Is Bringing Back Suicide Doors," 17 Dec. 2018 The 100th person into the new market without differentiation is going to get crushed. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why tech companies need to reinvent themselves every three to four years," 10 Oct. 2018 While the study will be fully released in 2019, enough is available now to show that throttling and differentiation are common practices among ISPs. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Just How Mobile Providers Throttle Your Internet," 11 Sep. 2018 Many of the genes carrying mutations are involved in cellular differentiation, the process by which a cell adopts a mature identity, like lung or muscle. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Healthy tissues in older people carry a lot of cancer-promoting mutations," 26 Oct. 2018 The process, as the paper explains, can be described as 'differentiation,' when service providers treat different kinds of traffic with inconsistent rules by throttling—artificially slowing—some forms of data but not others. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Just How Mobile Providers Throttle Your Internet," 11 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'differentiation.' 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 differentiation

1776, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for differentiation

borrowed from New Latin differentiātiōn-, differentiātiō, from Medieval Latin differentiāre "to distinguish, differentiate" + Latin -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for differentiation

The first known use of differentiation was in 1776

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More Definitions for differentiation


dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​a·​tion | \ ˌdi-fə-ˌren-shē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce differentiation (audio) \

Kids Definition of differentiation

: the process of change by which immature living structures develop to maturity


dif·​fer·​en·​ti·​a·​tion | \ -ˌren-chē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce differentiation (audio) \

Medical Definition of differentiation

1a : the act of describing a thing by giving its differentia
b : the enhancement of microscopically visible differences between tissue or cell parts by partial selective decolorization or removal of excess stain (as in regressive staining)
c : the development of a discriminating conditioned response with a positive response to one stimulus and absence of the response on the application of similar but discriminably different stimuli
2a : modification of different parts of the body for performance of particular functions also : specialization of parts or organs in the course of evolution
b : the sum of the developmental processes whereby apparently unspecialized cells, tissues, and structures attain their adult form and function — compare determination sense 2

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