iden·​ti·​fy | \ ī-ˈden-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce identify (audio) , ə- \
identified; identifying

Definition of identify

transitive verb

1a : to establish the identity of
b : to determine the taxonomic position of (a biological specimen)
2a : to conceive as united (as in spirit, outlook, or principle) groups that are identified with conservation
b : to cause to be or become identical

intransitive verb

1 : to practice psychological identification identify with the hero of a novel
2 : to be or become the same

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Examples of identify in a Sentence

She identified the dog as her lost pet. He was able to correctly identify the mushroom. The witness positively identified the suspect in the crime. The corpse was identified on the basis of dental records. They could not identify the source of the quotation. They had no difficulty in identifying the problem. We began by identifying what we needed for the job. We need to identify the causes of unemployment.
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Recent Examples on the Web Court records identify 57-year-old Snow as an employee of the Mobile County Public Schools system. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Mobile teacher charged with rape in Tuscaloosa County," 1 Jan. 2021 Brazil’s most common racial mix is black and white; political candidates with black ancestry can identify themselves as either black or mixed-race. Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, "Wave of Black Politicians Takes Office in Brazil," 1 Jan. 2021 Other users quickly found old tweets from Hilaria and her husband, Alec Baldwin, that identify her as Spanish. Lydia Wang,, "What Exactly Is Going On With Hilaria Baldwin?," 30 Dec. 2020 Argentina, the birthplace of Pope Francis, has seen a gradual rise in agnosticism in recent years, although 92% of Argentinians still identify as Roman Catholic, according to the CIA. Diego Laje And Kara Fox, CNN, "Argentina's Senate approves historic bill to legalize abortion," 30 Dec. 2020 How did authorities identify the bomber in the RV explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas Day? Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "The $600 question: When is it coming?," 28 Dec. 2020 To identify with Trump meant identifying with not wearing masks, with eating meals in restaurants, with going to indoor worship services, and with believing that diseases were things that happened to other kinds of people. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Error of Fighting a Public Health War With Medical Weapons," 28 Dec. 2020 President Donald Trump ends days of delay and signs a bill that includes Covid-19 relief, authorities identify the Nashville bombing suspect, and a look at the year's top memes. NBC News, "Relief is coming: Trump backtracks and signs Covid aid into law," 28 Dec. 2020 These footprint-reading experts can identify individual black rhinos from the shape of their feet and, when visible, the impressions left by cracks in the animals' heel pads, which are as distinctive as a human fingerprint. Helen Santoro, Scientific American, "New App Tracks Black Rhinos through Their Footprints," 28 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'identify.' 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 identify

1626, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2b

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Time Traveler for identify

Time Traveler

The first known use of identify was in 1626

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Statistics for identify

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Identify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for identify


How to pronounce identify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of identify

: to know and say who someone is or what something is
: to find out who someone is or what something is
: to show who someone is or what something is


iden·​ti·​fy | \ ī-ˈden-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce identify (audio) \
identified; identifying

Kids Definition of identify

1 : to find out or show the identity of … they ate … a mystery casserole that I could not identify.— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
2 : to feel empathy for I identified with her problem.
3 : to think of as joined or associated with These groups are identified with conservation.


iden·​ti·​fy | \ ī-ˈdent-ə-ˌfī, ə- How to pronounce identify (audio) \
identified; identifying

Medical Definition of identify

transitive verb

: to determine the taxonomic position of (a biological specimen)

intransitive verb

: to undergo or experience psychological identification identify with the hero of a novel

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identified; identifying

Legal Definition of identify

1 : to consider as united or associated (as in interests or principles) can ask leading questions of a witness who is identified with an adverse party
2 : to establish the identity of identifying the suspect
3 : to specify or designate (goods) as the object of a contract used in the phrase identify to the contract the disputed beans were goods identified to the contract

Note: Under the Uniform Commercial Code, once goods are identified to a contract, the buyer has a special property interest and an insurable interest in the goods. This gives the buyer the right to seek damages and other relief. This identification can be done at any time and in any manner agreed to by the parties or as otherwise specified in the U.C.C.

Other Words from identify

identifiable adjective
identification noun

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Comments on identify

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