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

But in blood stem cells, m6A restricts differentiation. Ken Garber, Science | AAAS, "Hidden layer of gene control influences everything from cancer to memory," 1 July 2019 These are significant competitive differentiations. Mark Weinstein, WSJ, "I Compete With Facebook, and It’s No Monopoly," 27 June 2019 Even for elected officials with both a personal and a governmental account, the differentiation can be tricky. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Can your elected official block you on Twitter or Facebook? New Texas case may provide an answer," 25 June 2019 In a 1918 textbook co-authored with Roswell Johnson, Applied Eugenics, Popenoe defined feminism as a foolish effort to eliminate biological, political, and economic differentiation between the sexes. Audrey Farley, Longreads, "We Still Don’t Know How to Navigate the Cultural Legacy of Eugenics," 20 June 2019 Ohio law makes no differentiation between hemp and marijuana, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy has maintained CBD, or cannabidiol, derived from hemp can only be produced and sold through Ohio's medical marijuana program. Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio hemp legalization bill draws criticism from farmers and hemp advocates," 4 June 2019 One crucial role that has emerged is in promoting the differentiation of various types of stem cell, including those for blood and fat cells — and, most recently, for neurons. Quanta Magazine, "Biologists Discover Unknown Powers in Mighty Mitochondria," 18 Mar. 2019 People who struggle with emotion differentiation are more likely to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "How to Get Out of a Bad Mood," 28 May 2019 These blood stem cells were rare, slow to divide and capable of both self-renewal and differentiation into any of the blood’s more specialized cell types. Quanta Magazine, "What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer," 4 Dec. 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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Statistics for differentiation

Last Updated

4 Jul 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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