• synonyms


[verb dih-skrim-uh-neyt; adjective dih-skrim-uh-nit]
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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.
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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.
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  1. marked by discrimination; making or evidencing nice distinctions: discriminate people; discriminate judgments.
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Origin of discriminate

1620–30; < Latin discrīminātus separated, past participle of discrīmināre. See discriminant, -ate1
Related formsdis·crim·i·nate·ly, adverbhalf-dis·crim·i·nat·ed, adjectivepre·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

Synonym study

3. See distinguish.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for discriminate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Can't she discriminate between the politician and the private friend?

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • The first thing, then, that we have to do, is accurately to discriminate 17.

  • We cannot discriminate in dealing with the great fundamentals of life.

  • Shall we not discriminate in our employment of the superlative?

    My Studio Neighbors

    William Hamilton Gibson

  • I'll be better qualified after this to discriminate between the false and true.


    Anna Balmer Myers

British Dictionary definitions for discriminate


verb (dɪˈskrɪmɪˌneɪt)
  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); distinguishto discriminate right and wrong; to discriminate between right and wrong
  3. (intr) to constitute or mark a difference
  4. (intr) to be discerning in matters of taste
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adjective (dɪˈskrɪmɪnɪt)
  1. showing or marked by discrimination
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Derived Formsdiscriminately, adverbdiscriminator, noun

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for discriminate


1620s, from Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare "to divide, separate," from discrimen (genitive discriminis) "interval, distinction, difference," derived noun from discernere (see discern). The adverse (usually racial) sense is first recorded 1866, American English. Positive sense remains in discriminating. Related: Discriminated. Also used 17c. and after as an adjective meaning "distinct."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper