iden·ti·ty | \ī-ˈden-tə-tē, 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

He has been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, accused of coordinating the identity fraud. Elizabeth Myong, Houston Chronicle, "Fake Florida ID tied to Harris County fraud case," 12 July 2018 Los Angeles County prosecutors said Friday that 21-year-old Susan Antrach of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, has been charged with five identity-theft counts, five fraud counts and one count of accessing and using data without permission. CBS News, "Woman charged with hacking Selena Gomez’s email," 13 July 2018 The vehicle’s driver, Johann Gonzalez, 26, of Boston, was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin over 200 grams, conspiracy, and identity fraud. Danny Mcdonald,, "Bust nets $200,000 worth of illegal drugs, Middlesex DA says," 13 July 2018 The man, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with minor, non-life-threatening injuries, Gipson said. Jason Kelly, ajc, "Man stunned as alligator sneaks up, bites his leg in neighborhood park pond," 12 July 2018 While a conference crown wasn’t in the cards, Temple seemed to figure out its offensive identity halfway through last season. Matt Murschel,, "Temple is No. 50 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 8 July 2018 Shannade allegedly used his identity and two of his debit cards to pay her rent and phone bills, as well as to pay for flights and other online purchases for clothes that were in the thousands of dollars. Alexia Fernandez,, "Bad Girls Club Star & Kanye's Muse Shannade Clermont Arrested for Stealing Dead Man's Identity," 11 July 2018 Advocates for social change involving race, gender, identity and such will have to convince representative majorities, elected by voters, to agree with their point of view. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Kavanaugh and the Culture Wars," 11 July 2018 Officers were able to identity White and spoke with employees at the Greyhound bus station in Kansas City and learned they were headed to Minnesota. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "Man charged with kidnapping in Amber Alert case involving 13-year-old Lenexa girl," 9 July 2018

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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Statistics for identity

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for identity

The first known use of identity was in 1545

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More Definitions for identity



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 \
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 \
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 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

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