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 The results of the survey will be used to identify what skills are needed for in-demand jobs and the specific training needed to produce competent workers ready to enter the market. William Thornton |, al, "Employer survey looks to help in training Alabama’s future workforce," 24 June 2020 The survey is voluntary and will not collect information that can be used to identify individuals. USA TODAY, "Tattoos, masks, telemedicine, Yellowstone: News from around our 50 states," 23 June 2020 The radar could be used to identify hot spots of viral infections and as an early warning sign of future outbreaks in an area, according to the release. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Could the key to tracking the spread of COVID-19 be in Louisville's sewage?," 19 June 2020 The devices can provide alerts reminding people to spread out and the data can be used to identify people who were in contact with anyone who becomes sick. Tom Simonite, Wired, "Amazon Touts AI for Social Distancing Amid Worker Complaints," 18 June 2020 In the 1930s, the same badge was used to identify communists, liberals, social democrats, and others who did not agree with the politics of the Nazi party. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "Facebook removes Trump campaign ads displaying Nazi symbol," 18 June 2020 As immediately pointed out by several anti-defamation groups and media outlets, that symbol was used by the Nazi party to identify political prisoners in concentration camps. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Facebook pulls Trump campaign ads for featuring Nazi-associated image," 18 June 2020 The Nazis used red triangles to identify their political victims in concentration camps. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Facebook takes down Trump ads featuring symbol identical to one Nazis used for concentration camp prisoners," 18 June 2020 That data has been used to identify and shame individual people who have gotten sick, and contributed to the stigma against LGBTQ citizens when a recent outbreak was traced back to specific LGBTQ-friendly bars. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "The global tide has turned against centralized contact tracing apps," 18 June 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

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Identify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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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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