dif·fer·en·ti·a·tion | \-ˌren(t)-shē-ˈā-shən \

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

Practitioners use pattern differentiation to determine the root cause of the problem. Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, Good Housekeeping, "I Tried Acupuncture To Get Pregnant And This Is What It Was Like," 28 Dec. 2017 There hasn't been too much differentiation between these guys' numbers, and their second-half performance could determine everything here. Si.com Staff, SI.com, "Midseason Roundtable: The SI Staff Makes Some Second-Half Predictions," 11 July 2018 But the Democratic-Republicans press, which could now be sent to jail for voicing its dissent, pointed out (often colorfully) that finding a differentiation between political opinion and fact was impossible. Jackie Mansky, Smithsonian, "The Age-Old Problem of “Fake News”," 7 May 2018 Big high-technology differentiation, installed base, long-term service. Thomas Gryta, WSJ, "Q&A: GE CEO Explains Strategy, Smaller HQ," 26 June 2018 The liberalization will allow for a greater differentiation among the states, which have widely varying levels of growth, debt and wealth, overseas investors including Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd. say. Subhadip Sircar, Bloomberg.com, "Pain for India's State Bond Market Is Good, Investors Say," 15 June 2018 In alligators, exposure to heat during a sensitive period apparently jumpstarts a suite of genes that prompt male differentiation—but in the cold, offspring default to female. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Alternatives to Heterosexual Pairings, Brought to You By Non-Human Animals," 28 June 2018 Understanding differentiation Choffnes is a Northeastern University professor who researches distributed systems and networking. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "The net neutrality testing app that Apple rejected is available now," 19 Jan. 2018 Bryan: Even that speaks to the larger point of differentiation, though. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Question Club: Where should Star Wars go after Solo’s box-office disappointment?," 1 June 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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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 \

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 \

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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evasion of direct action or statement

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