dis·​tinc·​tion | \ di-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio) \

Definition of distinction

1 : the act of perceiving someone or something as being not the same and often treating as separate or different : the distinguishing of a difference without distinction as to race, sex, or religion also : the difference distinguished the distinction between imply and infer
2 : something that distinguishes regional distinctions
3 : the quality or state of being distinguishable no distinction of facial features in the twins
4a : the quality or state of being excellent or superior : the quality or state of being distinguished or worthy a politician of some distinction
b : special honor or recognition took a law degree with distinction won many distinctions
c : an accomplishment that sets one apart holds the distinction of being the only American to win the prize
5a : class sense 4 Mr. Hemingway's … prose is of the first distinction.— Edmund Wilson
b archaic : division

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Examples of distinction in a Sentence

There are no obvious distinctions between the two designs. She made a distinction between the words “less” and “fewer.” He was raised in a small town of no great distinction. Her talents gave distinction to the work.
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Recent Examples on the Web After attending Yale and Cambridge University in England, Harry was entranced by the adventure of flying, purchased a Curtiss flying boat, and served with distinction during World War I. Rinker Buck, WSJ, 10 Oct. 2021 This is one of them, a stylish resort-style setting for contemporary Mexican food with more distinction than some of its older contemporaries. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, 23 Sep. 2021 Artworks pass back and forth seamlessly from the hotel to the museum depending on need, with no distinction made between the objects shown in either location. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 The shuttle -- officially called STS, or Space Transportation System -- first flew into space on April 12, 1981, with the distinction of having not been tested with an unmanned launch first. Jacopo Prisco, CNN, 15 Sep. 2021 In some ways, fusion centers were the state and local version of these task forces, but with one key distinction. NBC News, 11 Sep. 2021 Amid a rise in political violence, especially by right-wing extremists, there is also a growing impatience with the distinction between speech and violence. Arkansas Online, 26 July 2021 The dramatic canon is seen as the enemy, with no distinction between radical classics and warhorses. Los Angeles Times, 25 June 2021 The addition of the Cheez-It Bowl, which began in 1990 as the Blockbuster Bowl, provided the city with the distinction of being one of the few cities with multiple bowl games. Matt Murschel, orlandosentinel.com, 11 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distinction.' 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 distinction

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5b

History and Etymology for distinction

see distinct

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Time Traveler for distinction

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The first known use of distinction was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distinction. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of distinction

: a difference that you can see, hear, smell, feel, etc. : a noticeable difference between things or people
: the separation of people or things into different groups
: importance, excellence, or achievement


dis·​tinc·​tion | \ di-ˈstiŋk-shən How to pronounce distinction (audio) \

Kids Definition of distinction

1 : difference sense 1 the distinction between right and wrong
2 : the act of seeing or pointing out a difference He made a distinction between the two words.
3 : great worth : excellence a writer of distinction
4 : something that makes a person or thing special or different Our house has the distinction of being the oldest one in town.

More from Merriam-Webster on distinction

Nglish: Translation of distinction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distinction for Arabic Speakers


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