dis·​tinc·​tion di-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio)
: the act of perceiving someone or something as being not the same and often treating as separate or different : the distinguishing of a difference
without distinction as to race, sex, or religion
also : the difference distinguished
the distinction between imply and infer
: something that distinguishes
regional distinctions
: the quality or state of being distinguishable
no distinction of facial features in the twins
: the quality or state of being excellent or superior : the quality or state of being distinguished or worthy
a politician of some distinction
: special honor or recognition
took a law degree with distinction
won many distinctions
: an accomplishment that sets one apart
holds the distinction of being the only American to win the prize
: class sense 4
Mr. Hemingway's … prose is of the first distinction.Edmund Wilson
archaic : division

Examples of distinction in a Sentence

There are no obvious distinctions between the two designs. She made a distinction between the words “less” and “fewer.” He was raised in a small town of no great distinction. Her talents gave distinction to the work.
Recent Examples on the Web White also earned the distinction of being the second former WNBA player to be named coach of the year, following Tanisha Wright, who earned the honor in 2022. Joe Eachus, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2023 One defining distinction of Playing Robots Into Heaven is the sparing deployment of Blake’s trademark voice, which is less of a focal point and more of an instrument for him to tinker with as a producer. Kristin Robinson, Billboard, 8 Sep. 2023 Additionally, Flagstaff has the distinction of being named the first International Dark Sky City in 2001. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 8 Sep. 2023 But only Pat’s has the distinction of a historical marker. John Garrison Marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Sep. 2023 Guests will include authors, artists, filmmakers, actors, comedians, and musicians, all sharing the distinction of being at the forefront of their fields. The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 The Penn State commit also thrives at wide receiver and special teams and had the distinction of scoring a touchdown in all three phases last season. Glenn Graham, Baltimore Sun, 1 Sep. 2023 But the distinction comes with a caveat: Only a sliver of the ZIP code, in Glen Oaks, Queens, is actually within city limits. Michael Kolomatsky, New York Times, 31 Aug. 2023 Venture Portable Gas Grill Now 27% Off $147 at Amazon On our list of best portable grills, the Cuisinart Venture won the distinction of being the most Instagram-worthy, too. Micki Wagner, Popular Mechanics, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'distinction.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see distinct

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5b

Time Traveler
The first known use of distinction was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near distinction

Cite this Entry

“Distinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distinction. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​tinc·​tion dis-ˈtiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio)
: the seeing or pointing out of a difference
: difference sense 1
the distinction between good and evil
: something that makes a person or thing special or different
the distinction of being the oldest house in the city
: particular excellence
served with distinction
: special honor or recognition

More from Merriam-Webster on distinction

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