- to mark off as different (often followed by from or by): He was distinguished from the other boys by his height.
- to recognize as distinct or different; recognize the salient or individual features or characteristics of: It is hard to distinguish her from her twin sister.
- to perceive clearly by sight or other sense; discern; recognize: He could not distinguish many of the words.
- to set apart as different; be a distinctive characteristic of; characterize: It is his Italian accent that distinguishes him.
- to make prominent, conspicuous, or eminent: to distinguish oneself in battle.
- to divide into classes; classify: Let us distinguish the various types of metaphor.
- Archaic. to single out for or honor with special attention.
- to indicate or show a difference (usually followed by between).
- to recognize or note differences; discriminate.
Origin of distinguish
Examples from the Web for distinguish
The line between being careful about what you eat and being obsessive is difficult to distinguish.Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Becomes an Obsession
October 25, 2014
Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?Guess Who Doesn’t Want You to Know How Much Added Sugar Is in Your Food
July 19, 2014
Then there was the attempt to distinguish her tax status from those who are “truly well off.”Hillary’s Doomed if She Can’t Learn to Talk About Her Privilege
June 27, 2014
Behind-the-scenes technological differences do not distinguish Aereo's system from cable systems, which do perform publicly.What the Aereo Decision Means for You
June 25, 2014
And how could we distinguish the small exomoon signal from that of its host planet?Could ‘Star Wars’ Be Right About Habitable Moons?
Matthew R. Francis
May 4, 2014
Through his glasses Kingozi could distinguish rounded foothills.The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White
And the word was invented to distinguish the laymen from the clergymen.Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 7.
Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)
I now put forth my whole speed, and while thus running could distinguish no sound.Green Mansions
W. H. Hudson
Without Ithuriel's spear, how can they distinguish the good from the evil?Tales And Novels, Volume 3 (of 10)
The Pigmies are so called to distinguish them from the bulkier Caucasians —who are Hogmies.The Devil's Dictionary
- (when intr, foll by between or among) to make, show, or recognize a difference or differences (between or among); differentiate (between)
- to be a distinctive feature of; characterize
- to make out; perceive
- to mark for a special honour or title
- to make (oneself) noteworthyhe distinguished himself by his cowardice
- to classify; categorizewe distinguished three species
Word Origin and History for distinguish
1560s, from Middle French distinguiss-, stem of distinguer, or directly from Latin distinguere "to separate between, separate by pricking," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + -stinguere "to prick" (see extinguish, and cf. Latin instinguere "to incite, impel").
The suffix -ish is due to the influence of many verbs in which it is the equivalent of Old French -iss-, ultimately from Latin inchoative suffix -iscere (this is also the case in extinguish, admonish, and astonish). Related: Distinguishing. The earlier form of the verb was distinguen (mid-14c.).