distinguish

verb
dis·​tin·​guish | \ di-ˈstiŋ-(g)wish How to pronounce distinguish (audio) \
distinguished; distinguishing; distinguishes

Definition of distinguish

transitive verb

1 : to perceive a difference in : mentally separate so alike they could not be distinguished
2a : to mark as separate or different a policy that distinguishes him from other candidates
b : to separate into kinds, classes, or categories distinguish words by their part of speech
c : to make noteworthy or remarkable : to give prominence or distinction (see distinction sense 4) to distinguished themselves as pioneers of hip-hop
d : characterize recipes distinguished by simplicity
3a : discern distinguished a light in the distance could barely distinguish them in the fog
b : to single out : take special notice of

intransitive verb

: to perceive a difference distinguish between right and wrong

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Other Words from distinguish

distinguishability \ di-​ˌstiŋ-​(g)wi-​shə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce distinguish (audio) \ noun
distinguishable \ di-​ˈstiŋ-​(g)wi-​shə-​bəl How to pronounce distinguish (audio) \ adjective
distinguishably \ di-​ˈstiŋ-​(g)wi-​shə-​blē How to pronounce distinguish (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for distinguish

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Examples of distinguish in a Sentence

You're old enough to distinguish between fact and fantasy. I have trouble distinguishing between the two of them. I have trouble distinguishing the difference between the two of them. You should be able to distinguish fact from fantasy. The only thing that distinguishes the dogs is their bark. The singer's voice is what distinguishes the band. You can't distinguish the detail from this distance.
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Recent Examples on the Web Both droplets and aerosol particles consist of microscopic spheres of liquid, and scientists distinguish between them based on the size of those tiny globules. Jv Chamary, Forbes, 29 May 2021 Arlo's advanced camera can distinguish people from animals, cars, and other moving objects, to keep irksome false notifications to minimum. Dan Diclerico, Good Housekeeping, 3 May 2021 How does one distinguish a California resident from an out-of-state tourist visiting Disneyland? Los Angeles Times, 1 May 2021 Federal prosecutors rarely distinguish violence or threats from extremists in the U.S. as domestic terrorism because there is technically no federal domestic terror law. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2021 No one line of evidence can distinguish different pumpkin toadlet species from each other. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2021 Her eyes, milky with cataracts, could distinguish light from dark, but did not focus on any place in particular. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2021 Texture, concentration and vibrant tension distinguish the palate, with stone fruit, citrus and fresh herb flavors joining forces through an impressively long finish. Sara L. Schneider, Robb Report, 26 Apr. 2021 For others, passports will distinguish those vaccinated from the rest. Peter Baldwin, CNN, 19 Apr. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of distinguish

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for distinguish

Time Traveler

The first known use of distinguish was in the 15th century

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Statistics for distinguish

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distinguish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distinguish. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for distinguish

distinguish

verb

English Language Learners Definition of distinguish

: 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

verb
dis·​tin·​guish | \ di-ˈstiŋ-gwish How to pronounce distinguish (audio) \
distinguished; distinguishing

Kids Definition of distinguish

1 : to recognize one thing from others by some mark or quality He distinguished the sound of the piano in the orchestra.
2 : to hear or see clearly You can't distinguish her face in this photo.
3 : to know the difference Can you distinguish between right and wrong?
4 : to set apart as different or special She distinguished herself by heroic actions.

distinguish

transitive verb
dis·​tin·​guish

Legal Definition of distinguish

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

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