iden·​ti·​ty | \ ī-ˈden-tə-tē How to pronounce identity (audio) , ə-, -ˈde-nə- \
plural identities

Definition of identity

1a : the distinguishing character or personality of an individual : individuality
b : the relation established by psychological identification
2 : the condition of being the same with something described or asserted establish the identity of stolen goods
3a : sameness of essential or generic character in different instances
b : sameness in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing : oneness
4 : an equation that is satisfied for all values of the symbols

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Examples of identity in a Sentence

The identity of the criminal is not known. They produced their passports as proof of their identities. They arrested the wrong man. It was a case of mistaken identity. As children grow, they establish their own identities. people who seem to lack individual identity His art reflects his cultural identity.
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Recent Examples on the Web We are bound, not by blood, or even a common last name, racial identity, or country of origin. Emily Bernard, The New Yorker, "The Purpose of a House," 25 June 2020 The cow account appears to mock Nunes' family's dairy farm, which the congressman has made a central part of his identity in politics. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "Judge rules Rep. Devin Nunes can't sue Twitter over statements from parody cow and mom accounts," 25 June 2020 The validity of my identity is therefore questioned in both spaces. Lauren Patten,, "If I’m Not Gay Enough, & I’m Not Straight Enough, Then What Am I?," 25 June 2020 Twin sisters take very different paths in this gripping exploration of race, identity, and the meaning of home. Monitor Reviewers, The Christian Science Monitor, "The 10 best books of June bring hope and insight," 22 June 2020 National Geographic has covered issues related to gender, identity, and inclusion for years. Gillian Kendall, National Geographic, "Celebrate Pride with 10 travel books by LGBTQ authors," 19 June 2020 The documents, together with other first-hand reports, paint an alarming picture of what appears to be a strategic campaign by Beijing to strip Uyghurs of their cultural and religious identity and suppress behavior considered to be unpatriotic. Ben Westcott, CNN, "What's been happening in China's Xinjiang, home to 11 million Uyghurs?," 19 June 2020 Maximilian Christiaens, an architect with a Congolese mother and Belgian father, who came to see the statue after the defacing, realizes the issue is part of his identity. Washington Post, "As protests grow, Belgium faces its racist colonial past," 11 June 2020 The vagueness of their identity and their disinterest in identifying themselves introduce specific challenges and risks, as former Army officer and FBI special agent Clint Watts explained in a phone interview with The Post. Philip Bump, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: Unidentified law enforcement officers are a dangerous new factor in an uneasy moment," 4 June 2020

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

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

History and Etymology for identity

Middle French identité, from Late Latin identitat-, identitas, probably from Latin identidem repeatedly, contraction of idem et idem, literally, same and same

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Time Traveler for identity

Time Traveler

The first known use of identity was in 1545

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Statistics for identity

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for identity


How to pronounce identity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of identity

: who someone is : the name of a person
: the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others


iden·​ti·​ty | \ ī-ˈden-tə-tē How to pronounce identity (audio) \
plural identities

Kids Definition of identity

1 : the set of qualities and beliefs that make one person or group different from others : individuality Children establish their own identities.
2 : the fact of being the same person or thing as claimed Can you prove your identity?
3 : the fact or condition of being exactly alike : sameness He proved the identity of the two books' authorship.


iden·​ti·​ty | \ ī-ˈden(t)-ət-ē, ə-ˈ How to pronounce identity (audio) \
plural identities

Medical Definition of identity

1 : the distinguishing character or personality of an individual
2 : the relation established by psychological identification

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plural identities

Legal Definition of identity

1 : sameness of essential character or aspect collateral estoppel requires identity of the issues and the parties
2a : separate or distinct existence when movables lose their identity or become an integral part of the immovableLouisiana Civil Code
b : distinguishing character of a person especially : information (as a name or address) that distinguishes a person is required to reveal the identity of an informer but for a mistake concerning the proper party's identityFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 15(c)
3 : the condition of being the same as a thing or person described, claimed, or accused character evidence of a suspect's past crimes may be admitted to prove the identity of a crime's perpetrator

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