dis·​tinc·​tion | \ di-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio) \

Definition of distinction

1 : 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
2 : something that distinguishes regional distinctions
3 : the quality or state of being distinguishable no distinction of facial features in the twins
4a : the quality or state of being excellent or superior : the quality or state of being distinguished or worthy a politician of some distinction
b : special honor or recognition took a law degree with distinction won many distinctions
c : an accomplishment that sets one apart holds the distinction of being the only American to win the prize
5a : class sense 4 Mr. Hemingway's … prose is of the first distinction.— Edmund Wilson
b archaic : division

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web All-American in the past two seasons, after Okudah and Chase Young earned that distinction in 2019. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football’s Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis continue All-America march with AFCA recognition," 31 Dec. 2020 Typically, quarterbacks earn that distinction because of a reputation of pedestrian play rather than of standout or elite proportions. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "With powerful defense, Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t had to be flashy during Dolphins’ playoff push," 24 Dec. 2020 But that dishonorable distinction seemed to be the wake-up call the area needed to jolt it into action. Kate Santich, orlandosentinel.com, "This was the year for Central Florida to make headway on affordable housing. Then the virus hit. | Part 3 of Special Series," 17 Dec. 2020 Anniston, Huntsville, Mobile, Muscle Shoals and Tuscaloosa all had their coldest temperatures of the year on Dec. 2 — although a few shared that distinction with Jan. 21. Leigh Morgan, al, "Alabama weather 2020: The good, the bad and the weird," 4 Dec. 2020 Santander was the 2020 Most Valuable Oriole, earning that distinction despite an oblique injury ending his season early. Nathan Ruiz, baltimoresun.com, "The Orioles are reportedly interested in Yasiel Puig again. Would signing him make sense?," 26 Nov. 2020 The Giants hold that distinction at the moment based on their modest two-game winning streak. David Moore, Dallas News, "As improbable as it sounds, Cowboys have the most favorable position in NFC East slog," 16 Nov. 2020 To avoid that dubious distinction, Harbaugh has to lead the Wolverines to an upset victory for the first time. Larry Lage, Star Tribune, "No. 13 Wisconsin to play at Michigan after canceling 2 games," 12 Nov. 2020 No one drew that distinction between implementing code and declaring code. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Google’s Supreme Court faceoff with Oracle was a disaster for Google," 8 Oct. 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for distinction

see distinct

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Time Traveler for distinction

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for distinction

Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distinction. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for distinction



English Language Learners Definition of distinction

: a difference that you can see, hear, smell, feel, etc. : a noticeable difference between things or people
: the separation of people or things into different groups
: importance, excellence, or achievement


dis·​tinc·​tion | \ di-ˈstiŋk-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio) \

Kids Definition of distinction

1 : difference sense 1 the distinction between right and wrong
2 : the act of seeing or pointing out a difference He made a distinction between the two words.
3 : great worth : excellence a writer of distinction
4 : something that makes a person or thing special or different Our house has the distinction of being the oldest one in town.

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