[ dif-uh-ren-shee-eyt ]

verb (used with object),dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
  1. to form or mark differently from other such things; distinguish.

  2. to change; alter.

  1. to perceive the difference in or between.

  2. to make different by modification, as a biological species.

  3. Mathematics. to obtain the differential or the derivative of.

verb (used without object),dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
  1. to become unlike or dissimilar; change in character.

  2. to make a distinction.

  1. Biology. (of cells or tissues) to change from relatively generalized to specialized kinds, during development.

Origin of differentiate

First recorded in 1810–20; from Medieval Latin differentiātus distinguished (past participle of differentiāre ), equivalent to Latin different(ia) difference + -ātus -ate1

synonym study For differentiate

1. See distinguish.

Other words for differentiate

Other words from differentiate

  • dif·fer·en·ti·a·tion, noun
  • in·ter·dif·fer·en·ti·ate, verb (used with object), in·ter·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, in·ter·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
  • re·dif·fer·en·ti·ate, verb, re·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, re·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
  • self-dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing, adjective
  • un·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use differentiate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for differentiate


/ (ˌdɪfəˈrɛnʃɪˌeɪt) /

  1. (tr) to serve to distinguish between

  2. (when intr, often foll by between) to perceive, show, or make a difference (in or between); discriminate

  1. (intr) to become dissimilar or distinct

  2. maths to perform a differentiation on (a quantity, expression, etc)

  3. (intr) (of unspecialized cells, etc) to change during development to more specialized forms

Derived forms of differentiate

  • differentiator, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012