distinguish

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

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 5) 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 \-ˌstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
distinguishable \-ˈstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-bəl \ adjective
distinguishably \-blē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for distinguish

Synonyms

difference, differentiate, discern, discriminate, separate

Antonyms

confuse, mistake, mix (up)

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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

Could these tests, for instance, distinguish between an aunt and mother? Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "DNA tests on children separated at border from family: few answers, lots of questions," 9 July 2018 They were distinguished in September and October, with pennants on the line. Alex Putterman, The Atlantic, "The Yankees–Red Sox Rivalry Is Back in Full Force," 28 June 2018 Since July 2017 Dutch law distinguishes between e-bikes whose motor allows riders to go slower or faster than 25 kilometres per hour. The Economist, "How two-wheelers are weaving their way into urban transport," 21 June 2018 Blistering temperatures distinguish the Badwater 135 in Death Valley. David Wharton, latimes.com, "Ultra running can mean extreme heat, mountain climbs and, oh yeah, look out for those trees," 14 June 2018 That distinguishes the firm from traditional banks that take deposits, offer checking accounts and have ATM machines. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "How Dan Gilbert has made Quicken Loans thrive in mortgage industry," 31 May 2018 Garcia says that the untrained eye can’t distinguish one salamander from another, but the nuns, with all their years of experience, can. National Geographic, "Nuns Resurrect Endangered Salamanders in First-of-its-Kind Conservation Effort," 19 June 2018 But the data does not distinguish between full-time and part-time, so the study counted all students as exempt. Adam Beam, The Courier-Journal, "Study: Older and less-educated people most likely to lose coverage under Bevin's Medicaid," 16 Feb. 2018 The human ear can distinguish changes at about three decibels, Kiff said. Hillary Davis, latimes.com, "Quieter JWA takeoff pattern tentatively set to begin March 29," 14 Feb. 2018

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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Phrases Related to distinguish

as distinguished from

distinguish oneself

Statistics for distinguish

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distinguish

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

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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 \
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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Comments on distinguish

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exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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