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

Khomeini and the other ayatollahs attempted to eradicate Iran’s national identity by erasing its pre-Islamic past. Eliora Katz, WSJ, "Iranians Are Now Chanting ‘Death to Palestine’," 13 July 2018 Even more troubling, the biological mothers had been chosen for their histories of mental illness, so that Neubauer might gauge to what degree environment figured in the children's mental health and identity formation. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Triplets ripped from family in a Nazi-like experiment, probed in Three Identical Strangers," 5 July 2018 With luck your private kingdom will evolve into an institution, with its own identity. The Economist, "Life as you know it is IPOver," 12 July 2018 This includes respecting and affirming the language that bathes our existence, and explores the intersectionality with other identities. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "TEACHING FOR BLACK LIVES," 10 July 2018 Directed by Mikael Burke, this romance follows Jesse, a black playwright whose boyfriend Neil, a white Black Lives Matter activist, calls him out for his political apathy, forcing the two to reckon with their identities. Kt Hawbaker,, "About Face Theatre sets 2018-19 season with two Chicago premieres and a world premiere," 10 July 2018 This was a team with an identity and established veteran leadership from world champions like Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos. Brian Straus,, "Dogged Russia Continues World Cup Run, Brings Spain's Celebrated Era to an End," 1 July 2018 Employees are encouraged to make their work life synonymous with their social identity, and many internalize those utopian ideals. Nitasha Tiku, WIRED, "Why Tech Worker Dissent Is Going Viral," 29 June 2018 The two were attacked in their home: One was killed; the other was shot and struck by a machete but survived, then placed into the witness protection program with a new identity. Jeff Truesdell,, "4 Things You’ll Learn About the Murderous Nation of Yahweh on People Magazine Investigates: Cults," 22 June 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

11 Nov 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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Comments on identity

What made you want to look up identity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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