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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web This Bearcats team is looking to create its own identity. Jason Williams, The Enquirer, 22 Sep. 2022 Nguyen also pointed out that debut authors who aren’t firmly established, as well as marginalized authors who write about their own identity, are particularly vulnerable to these consequences. Connor Goodwin, The Atlantic, 20 Sep. 2022 Happiness proves fleeting, and at this point, Norma Jeane is increasingly lost in her search for her father — and for her own identity. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 20 Sep. 2022 This main character makes all the choices, effectively nullifying her own identity. Leslie Jamison, The New Yorker, 12 Sep. 2022 Designer Lu Chen is a recent Parsons grad, and is already creating her own unique design identity. Kristen Bateman, Harper's BAZAAR, 11 Sep. 2022 Like other disabled activists, Wong draws moral weight from her own identity and experience. Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2022 In addition to housing the Face ID components, the notch design gives the iPhone its own unique identity. Chris Smith, BGR, 2 Sep. 2022 Adam Azevedo says his experience as a firefighter was transformative in shaping his own identity. Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of identity was in 1545

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Statistics for identity

Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Identity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for identity


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


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 identity Federal 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

More from Merriam-Webster on identity

Nglish: Translation of identity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of identity for Arabic Speakers


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