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 The man’s identity had not been released as of Thursday afternoon. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 23 July 2021 The Nigeria win offered a clearer picture of what the U.S. identity is. Alexa Philippou,, 22 July 2021 Police did not release further information about the circumstances around the shooting or the man’s identity. Henri Hollis, ajc, 17 July 2021 When asked via email whether the name change poses any dangers to the school’s identity, James Bundy, dean of the School of Drama, downplayed the issue. Los Angeles Times, 17 July 2021 Nema Yasin Mohamed, 28, used her sister’s identity to get jobs at the elderly care facilities after her two previous convictions barred her from working at such sites, according to state Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 July 2021 But these examples underscore that public identity is not a useful indicator of whether someone is capable of committing abuse. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 13 July 2021 Even before she was sworn in as vice president, political opponents used Harris’s identity to launch uglier forms of attack, such as intentionally mispronouncing her first name., 11 July 2021 The man’s identity will be released following confirmation with the Dallas County medical examiner, police said. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, 11 July 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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Time Traveler for identity

Time Traveler

The first known use of identity was in 1545

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Dictionary Entries Near identity



identity card

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Statistics for identity

Last Updated

28 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Identity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 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

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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