View synonyms for distinction


[ dih-stingk-shuhn ]


  1. a marking off or distinguishing as different:

    His distinction of sounds is excellent.

  2. the recognizing or noting of differences; discrimination:

    to make a distinction between right and wrong.

  3. a discrimination made between things as different; special regard or favoritism:

    Death comes to all without distinction.

  4. condition of being different; difference:

    There is a distinction between what he says and what he does.

    Antonyms: resemblance

  5. a distinguishing quality or characteristic:

    It has the distinction of being the oldest house in the town.

  6. a distinguishing or treating with special honor, attention, or favor.
  7. an act of bestowing, or a mark of, honor or favor.
  8. marked superiority; note; eminence.

    Synonyms: importance, renown

  9. Obsolete. division; separation.


/ dɪˈstɪŋkʃən /


  1. the act or an instance of distinguishing or differentiating
  2. a distinguishing feature
  3. the state of being different or distinguishable
  4. special honour, recognition, or fame
  5. excellence of character; distinctive qualities

    a man of distinction

  6. distinguished appearance
  7. a symbol of honour or rank
“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

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Other Words From

  • dis·tinction·less adjective
  • subdis·tinction noun
  • under·dis·tinction noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of distinction1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English distinccioun, from Anglo-French, from Latin distinctiōn-, stem of distinctiō “difference”; equivalent to distinct + -ion
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Synonym Study

Distinction and difference may both refer to perceivable dissimilarities and, in this meaning, may be used interchangeably: There is a distinction ( difference ) between the two. Distinction, however, usually suggests the perception of dissimilarity, as the result of analysis and discrimination: a carefully made distinction between two treatments of the same theme; whereas difference refers only to the condition of being dissimilar: the difference between Gothic and Roman architecture. “A distinction without a difference” is a way of referring to an artificial or false discrimination. See honor.
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Example Sentences

That distinction is one reason she’s “in the deflation camp.”

From Fortune

The pack is definitely not waterproof, which is an important distinction when you’re carrying a laptop.

In 2004, she won election as District Attorney of San Francisco serving with distinction.

One time when this distinction is particularly relevant is following major events such as the debates and party conventions.

When we say the brain’s “memory center,” the hippocampus, or the emotion center, the “amygdala,” these distinctions are based on cytoarchitectural maps.

Although Southern did not automatically equal neo-Confederate, at times the distinction could easily get lost.

The distinction between over-policing and non-responsiveness was alive and well in Bed-Stuy.

That is a distinction with a sociological difference—for many, an uncomfortable one to consider.

But this may be a distinction without much of a difference—especially since Scalise admitted speaking before EURO.

It seems like a nuanced distinction, but it could have huge implications.

To Harrison and his wife there was no distinction between the executive and judicial branches of the law.

See the distinction between the "sciences physiques" and the "sciences physiologiques" in the "Anatomic Générale," 1801.

Though by birth duke of St. Cloud, he preferred the ecclesiastical state to political distinction.

In ordinary work, however, it is safer to base the distinction upon size than upon structure.

When large forms of the lymphocyte are present, the distinction is often difficult or impossible.