verb Etymology: alteration of Middle English distinguen, from Anglo-French distinguer, from Latin distinguere, literally, to separate by pricking, from dis- + -stinguere (akin to Latin instigare to urge on) — more at stick Date: 15th century transitive verb 1. to perceive a difference in ; mentally separate <
so alike they could not be distinguished
2. a. to mark as separate or different <
a policy that distinguishes him from other candidates
b. to separate into kinds, classes, or categories <
distinguish words by their part of speech
c. to give prominence or distinction to <
distinguished themselves in music
d. characterize <
recipes distinguished by simplicity
3. a. discern <
distinguished a light in the distance
b. to single out ; take special notice of intransitive verb to perceive a difference <
distinguish between right and wrong
distinguishability noundistinguishable adjectivedistinguishably adverb

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • distinguish — dis·tin·guish vt: to identify or explain differences in or from distinguish ed the cases on factual grounds Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. distinguish …   Law dictionary

  • Distinguish — Dis*tin guish, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Distinguished}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Distinguishing}.] [F. distinguer, L. distinguere, distinctum; di = dis + stinguere to quench, extinguish; prob. orig., to prick, and so akin to G. stechen, E. stick, and perh.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distinguish — 1 Distinguish, differentiate, discriminate, demarcate are synonymous when they mean to point out or mark the differences between things that are or seem to be much alike or closely related. Distinguish presupposes sources of confusion; the things …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • distinguish — [di stiŋ′gwish] vt. [< L distinguere, to separate, discriminate < dis , apart + stinguere, to prick < IE base * steig , to prick, pierce (> STICK, Ger sticken, to embroider, Gr stigma) + ISH, sense 2] 1. to separate or mark off by… …   English World dictionary

  • distinguish — [v1] tell the difference analyze, ascertain, categorize, characterize, classify, collate, decide, demarcate, determinate, determine, diagnose, diagnosticate, differentiate, discriminate, divide, estimate, extricate, figure out, finger*, identify …   New thesaurus

  • distinguish — ► VERB 1) recognize, show, or treat as different. 2) manage to discern (something barely perceptible). 3) be an identifying characteristic of. 4) (distinguish oneself) make oneself worthy of respect. DERIVATIVES distinguishable adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • Distinguish — Dis*tin guish, v. i. 1. To make distinctions; to perceive the difference; to exercise discrimination; with between; as, a judge distinguishes between cases apparently similar, but differing in principle. [1913 Webster] 2. To become distinguished… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distinguish — 1560s, from M.Fr. distinguiss , stem of distinguer, or directly from L. distinguere to separate between, separate by pricking, from dis apart (see DIS (Cf. dis )) + stinguere to prick (see EXTINGUISH (Cf. extinguish), and Cf. L. instinguere …   Etymology dictionary

  • distinguish */*/*/ — UK [dɪˈstɪŋɡwɪʃ] / US verb Word forms distinguish : present tense I/you/we/they distinguish he/she/it distinguishes present participle distinguishing past tense distinguished past participle distinguished 1) [intransitive/transitive] to recognize …   English dictionary

  • distinguish — dis|tin|guish [ dı stıŋgwıʃ ] verb *** 1. ) intransitive or transitive to recognize the differences between things: DIFFERENTIATE: He learned to distinguish a great variety of birds, animals, and plants. distinguish between: They concluded that… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • distinguish — 01. Children under the age of 4 cannot always [distinguish] between the truth and a lie. 02. Witnesses to the crime said the suspect had no [distinguishing] features. 03. The Beatles [distinguished] themselves as perhaps the most important… …   Grammatical examples in English

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