[ verb dih-skrim-uh-neyt; adjective dih-skrim-uh-nit ]
See synonyms for: discriminatediscriminating on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),dis·crim·i·nat·ed, dis·crim·i·nat·ing.
  1. to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit; show partiality:The new law discriminates against foreigners. He discriminates in favor of his relatives.

  2. to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately: to discriminate between things.

verb (used with object),dis·crim·i·nat·ed, dis·crim·i·nat·ing.
  1. to make or constitute a distinction in or between; differentiate: a mark that discriminates the original from the copy.

  2. to note or distinguish as different: He can discriminate minute variations in tone.

  1. marked by discrimination; making or evidencing nice distinctions: discriminate people; discriminate judgments.

Origin of discriminate

First recorded in 1620–30; from Latin discrīminātus “separated,” past participle of discrīmināre “to separate”; see discriminant

synonym study For discriminate

3. See distinguish.

Other words from discriminate

  • dis·crim·i·nate·ly, adverb
  • half-dis·crim·i·nat·ed, adjective
  • pre·dis·crim·i·nate, verb (used with object), pre·dis·crim·i·nat·ed, pre·dis·crim·i·nat·ing.
  • un·dis·crim·i·nat·ed, adjective

Words Nearby discriminate

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

How to use discriminate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for discriminate


  1. (intr; usually foll by in favour of or against) to single out a particular person, group, etc, for special favour or, esp, disfavour, often because of a characteristic such as race, colour, sex, intelligence, etc

  2. (when intr, foll by between or among) to recognize or understand the difference (between); distinguish: to discriminate right and wrong; to discriminate between right and wrong

  1. (intr) to constitute or mark a difference

  2. (intr) to be discerning in matters of taste

  1. showing or marked by discrimination

Origin of discriminate

C17: from Latin discrīmināre to divide, from discrīmen a separation, from discernere to discern

Derived forms of discriminate

  • discriminately, adverb
  • discriminator, 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