discriminates between literary fiction and popular fiction
: to use good judgment
: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit
discriminate in favor of your friends
discriminate against a certain nationality
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Although many methods or motives for discriminating are unfair and undesirable (or even illegal), the verb itself has a neutral history. English speakers borrowed it from the past participle of the Latin verb discriminare (meaning "to distinguish or differentiate"), which, itself, is derived from the verb discernere, meaning "to distinguish between." Discernere, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix dis- (meaning "apart") and cernere ("to sift"). Other descendants of discernere include discern and discernible (as you no doubt guessed), discreet, and indiscretion. In addition, the root cernere gives us concern, certain, decree, and even secret.
The school is not allowed to discriminate.
the human eye can discriminate between very slight gradations of color
Recent Examples on the WebThursday’s lawsuit alleges that several Sweetgreen stores in New York — the complaint focused mostly on three: stores in Midtown East, the Financial District and the Meatpacking District — were discriminating against and harassing Black workers.—Tim Carman, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2023 The show reflects the range of portraiture and the ways the art form has been used to discriminate and enforce hierarchies across gender, race and class.—Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 An article on Tuesday about a U.S. judge’s ruling that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exceeded its authority in trying to examine whether banks are discriminating against Black Americans and other minorities misspelled the surname of the judge who presided over the case.—New York Times, 13 Sep. 2023 Related Patients still discriminate against health care workers of color.—Ramón Borges-Méndez, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2023 Black quarterback coaches were also discriminated against for essentially the same reason.—Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2023 Justice Department launches civil rights investigation into dilapidated and unsanitary conditions at Georgia's Fulton County Jail
The investigation will also look into whether the jail discriminates against detainees with psychiatric disabilities.—Devon M. Sayers, CNN, 31 Aug. 2023 As part of the rules, such educational assistance programs must be in writing and cannot discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees.—Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 1 Sep. 2023 During the hearing, Borg-Neal, who is White, failed to convince the judges that he was discriminated against on account of his race.—Jonathan Browning, Fortune, 31 Aug. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'discriminate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare, from discrimin-, discrimen distinction, from discernere to distinguish between — more at discern