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 According to the 2010 count, there are more than 86,000 people who identify as Native American in Wisconsin. Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Hard-to-count' Native American tribes lag behind rest of Wisconsin in census response," 10 July 2020 In Detroit, where police started using facial recognition software as an investigative tool in 2017, protesters have demanded the city stop using it, saying the error rate is high when used to identify people of color. Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press, "Controversial Detroit facial recognition got him arrested for a crime he didn’t commit," 10 July 2020 This is the main source of energy transfer at the microbial level, and searching for different types of redox reactions could potentially be used to identify extraterrestrial life that doesn’t share our specific biochemistry. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "Will We Recognize Life on Mars When We See It?," 9 July 2020 For comparison, that means non-monogamy is about as prevalent as the number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ, which is estimated to be about 4.5% of the American population. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Massachusetts city officially recognizes polyamorous relationships," 3 July 2020 There’s still a lot of hope among young people who were raised in that space, and even those who still identify with it, who are far more likely to embrace science and social justice. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "What Facebook and the Oil Industry Have in Common," 1 July 2020 According to the Vera Institute of Justice, 16% of adults who identify as transgender across the United States have been incarcerated. Lauren Castle, The Arizona Republic, "Candidates for Maricopa County attorney weigh in on racism in the justice system," 27 June 2020 People are becoming more accepting to people who identify as LGBT. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "A petition wants to replace a New Jersey city's Christopher Columbus statue with Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson," 27 June 2020 For those who identify as or lean Republican, 34% strongly approved of Trump's handling of the protests, and 26% somewhat approved, while 22% disapproved. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Trump gets poor marks for handling of protests as Biden widens lead in Wisconsin," 24 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

26 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Identify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 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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