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

However, that distinction is shared by nine other countries, including Canada, England and Spain. Anna M. Phillips, latimes.com, "Few of Trump’s environmental claims stand up to scrutiny," 8 July 2019 The four liberals would like to blur that state-private distinction. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Supreme Debate on Speech," 18 June 2019 That distinction is currently held by Lauryn Hill, who was 23 when she was nominated in 1998. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Billie Eilish & Finneas Among Several Sets of Siblings Expected to Land 2019 Grammy Noms," 17 June 2019 That distinction lets Apple credibly take a privacy-first posture, and allowed it to build a sign-in button with all the convenience of rival offerings, but with privacy in mind. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, "Apple's Most Significant New Innovation Is a Little Black Button. Here's Why," 11 June 2019 Jorgensen said the ordinance did not distinguish between private property and commercial shooting ranges, and the request to the Plan Commission could make that distinction. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Lake council still considering request to rewrite shooting range ordinance," 11 June 2019 Ostrom remains the only woman to get that distinction. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "Economics needs to do more than attract women to solve its gender problem," 11 June 2019 That distinction lay with Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa climber, and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand. Ipsita Chakravarty, Quartz India, "How colonialism cost the Himalayas their remoteness," 10 June 2019 That distinction belongs to nearby Avebury, which is also home to the biggest prehistoric mound in Europe: Silbury Hill. National Geographic, "Why summer solstice is one of the best times to see Stonehenge," 6 June 2019

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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Statistics for distinction

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distinction

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

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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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Comments on distinction

What made you want to look up distinction? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

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