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 By the 1950s, the Knoll identity became the standard for corporate powerhouses like Connecticut General Life Insurance, H.J. Heinz and CBS. Belinda Lanks, WSJ, 18 June 2021 Some enormous amount of men put parenting ahead of work identity [in studies and reports]. Washington Post, 17 June 2021 The risk for the property manager is mitigated since Migo works with Airbnb to do identity verification, requiring an uploaded ID that is then run through various criminal and background checks. Jennifer Castenson, Forbes, 17 June 2021 How is identity factoring into Andrew Yang's NYC mayoral campaign? Brandon Tensley, CNN, 17 June 2021 Organizations like Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and Solidaire, which work at the intersections of multiple identity groups, embody this principle. Elizabeth J. Dale, The Conversation, 16 June 2021 Other kinds of cyberattacks may seek to steal personal information to sell to identity thieves or co-opt computer networks to use in further criminal activity., 16 June 2021 Republicans who control the Michigan Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would mandate a photo ID to vote in person and add identity requirements for people who want to vote by mail. David Eggert, Star Tribune, 16 June 2021 In major cities, parades stretch for hours, with a wide array of identity groups participating or cheering from the sides. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 16 June 2021

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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Learn More About identity

Time Traveler for identity

Time Traveler

The first known use of identity was in 1545

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Statistics for identity

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Identity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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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 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 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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