identify

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

Essential Meaning of identify

1 : to know and say who someone is or what something is She identified the dog as her lost pet. He was able to correctly identify the mushroom. See More ExamplesThe witness positively identified the suspect in the crime. She was easily identified by what she was wearing. [=it was easy to see who she was because of what she was wearing] He has a talent for identifying [=recognizing] good workers.Hide
2 : to find out who someone is or what something is The corpse was identified on the basis of dental records. They could not identify the source of the quotation. See More ExamplesThey 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.Hide
3 : to show who someone is or what something is His clothes identified him as a clerk. [=his clothes showed that he was a clerk] an identifying mark/feature [=a mark/feature that shows who someone is or what something is]

Full Definition of identify

transitive verb

1a : to perceive or state the identity of (someone or something) "It's the young man!" I thought, feeling my heart shoot as I identified him.— Charlies Dickens Mr. Mace identified the phial handed him by Counsel as that sold by him to "Mr. Inglethorp."— Agatha Christie Hitters say the spitball is easily identified because, while it has the speed of a fastball, it scarcely rotates.— Ron Fimrite
b(1) : to ascertain the identity of (someone or something that is unfamiliar or unknown) He was able to quickly identify the problem. Police have identified a person of interest. Dr. McGovern explains that "identifying the cause of the disease is a breakthrough. …"The Chronicle of the Horse
(2) : to determine the taxonomic position or category of (a biological specimen) We were able to identify the plant as belonging to the nightshade family.
2a : to conceive as united (as in spirit, outlook, or principle) These groups are identified with conservation.
b : to cause to be or become identical identified her interests with theirs Sometimes people identify success with money, but for me it's giving of yourself.— Lorna E. Barnes In some strange way the boat became identified with himself, and just as it would have been useless for him to get up and steer the boat, so was it useless for him to struggle any longer with the irresistible force of his own feelings.— Virginia Woolf

intransitive verb

1 : to feel a sense of unity (as of interests, purpose, or effect) and close emotional association : to engage in psychological identification Many readers identify with the hero of a novel. I could identify with the anxiety she was experiencing.
2 : to have or assert an identity of a specified kind Of the high school students who participated, 77% identified as female, 20% identified as male, 2% identified as nonbinary …— Elizabeth Beyer
3 archaic : to be or become the same … new channels of communication will be opened between the States, the lines of separation will disappear, their interests will be identified, and their union cemented by new and indissoluble bonds.— Thomas Jefferson

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 Actual prices–not estimates–prevent overcharging by enabling consumers to identify and avoid price gouging providers in favor of less expensive alternatives. Fortune, 14 Jan. 2022 In this public-private partnership, The Villages will oversee the administrative side of hiring and managing the recruiters, while DCS will identify and refer children to the program. Holly V. Hays, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Jan. 2022 Scientists are using automation, real-time analysis and pooling data from around the world to rapidly identify and understand new coronavirus variants before the next one spreads widely. Vipal Monga, WSJ, 13 Jan. 2022 Investigators are trying to identify whoever is responsible and have asked for the public’s help, the fire department said Thursday. NBC News, 7 Jan. 2022 It can be triggered by using an extremely long name—up to 500,000 characters in length—to identify one of the smart devices and then getting a user to accept an invitation to that network. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 6 Jan. 2022 Police charged him with domestic violence, resisting arrest, obstruction, failure to identify and menacing. cleveland, 6 Jan. 2022 While coming up with a definitive timeline for the project is complex, the goal is to identify a specific location on campus and work out the actual budget sometime this year. Matt Murschel, orlandosentinel.com, 5 Jan. 2022 The intersections of these types of common threads can help identify new global connection opportunities and deepen the overall student experience. Anthony Rotoli, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022

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

1746, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for identify

Time Traveler

The first known use of identify was in 1746

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Dictionary Entries Near identify

identifier

identify

identifying mark/feature

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Statistics for identify

Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Identify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/identify. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for identify

identify

verb
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.

identify

verb
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

identify

transitive verb
iden·​ti·​fy
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

More from Merriam-Webster on identify

Nglish: Translation of identify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of identify for Arabic Speakers

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