Definition of distinguish
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 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
3a : discern distinguished a light in the distance could barely distinguish them in the fogb : to single out : take special notice of
: to perceive a difference distinguish between right and wrong
distinguishabilityplay \-ˌstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
distinguishableplay \-ˈstiŋ-(g)wi-shə-bəl\ adjective
distinguishablyplay \-blē\ adverb
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.
Recent Examples of distinguish from the Web
Such algorithms can also, for example, help distinguish the pairs of photons that originate from a Higgs decay from random pairs.
The award recognizes a librarian’s distinguished service and leadership in the school library.
The discovery, the scientists report, opens up the possibility of a diagnostic that can detect and distinguish between two different viruses in a single sample.
Some feature distinguished alumni, while others celebrate current students.
But now, observant and lucky birders who can pick out its flat head or distinguish its melodic rapid-fire song have seen or heard it along the Grassland trail.
From the many vineyards to choose from, the artists painted a composite of several, featuring the popular hiking destination Mt. Woodson in the background to distinguish its location.
Three years later, that historic mosque, built in the 12th century and distinguished by its leaning minaret, has been destroyed in the battle to retake the heart of Mosul back from ISIS’s control.
This is what distinguishes our era of racial hierarchy, the era of Black Lives Matter and the First Black President.
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
DISTINGUISH Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of distinguish for Students
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.
Legal Definition of distinguish
: to identify or explain differences in or from distinguished the cases on factual grounds
Seen and Heard
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