distinguish

play
verb dis·tin·guish \di-ˈstiŋ-(g)wish\

Definition of distinguish

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to perceive a difference in :  mentally separate so alike they could not be distinguished

  3. 2a :  to mark as separate or different a policy that distinguishes him from other candidatesb :  to separate into kinds, classes, or categories distinguish words by their part of speechc :  to make noteworthy or remarkable :  to give prominence or distinction (see distinction 5) to distinguished themselves as pioneers of hip-hopd :  characterize recipes distinguished by simplicity

  4. 3a :  discern distinguished a light in the distance could barely distinguish them in the fogb :  to single out :  take special notice of

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to perceive a difference distinguish between right and wrong

distinguishability

play \-ˌstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun

distinguishable

play \-ˈstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-bəl\ adjective

distinguishably

play \-blē\ adverb

Examples of distinguish in a Sentence

  1. You're old enough to distinguish between fact and fantasy.

  2. I have trouble distinguishing between the two of them.

  3. I have trouble distinguishing the difference between the two of them.

  4. You should be able to distinguish fact from fantasy.

  5. The only thing that distinguishes the dogs is their bark.

  6. The singer's voice is what distinguishes the band.

  7. You can't distinguish the detail from this distance.

Recent Examples of distinguish from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distinguish'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of distinguish

alteration of Middle English distinguen, from Anglo-French distinguer, from Latin distinguere, literally, to separate by pricking, from dis- + -stinguere (akin to Latin instigare to urge on) — more at stick


First Known Use: 15th century



DISTINGUISH Defined for English Language Learners

distinguish

play
verb

Definition of distinguish for English Language Learners

  • : to notice or recognize a difference between people or things

  • : to make (someone or something) different or special in some way

  • : to see or hear (someone or something) clearly


DISTINGUISH Defined for Kids

distinguish

play
verb dis·tin·guish \di-ˈstiŋ-gwish\

Definition of distinguish for Students

distinguished

;

distinguishing

  1. 1 :  to recognize one thing from others by some mark or quality He distinguished the sound of the piano in the orchestra.

  2. 2 :  to hear or see clearly You can't distinguish her face in this photo.

  3. 3 :  to know the difference Can you distinguish between right and wrong?

  4. 4 :  to set apart as different or special She distinguished herself by heroic actions.


Law Dictionary

distinguish

transitive verb dis·tin·guish

Legal Definition of distinguish

  1. :  to identify or explain differences in or from distinguished the cases on factual grounds



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