made conspicuous by excellence; noted; eminent; famous: a distinguished scholar.
having an air of distinction, dignity, or eminence: a distinguished old gentleman.
conspicuous; marked.

Nearby words

  1. distinctiveness ratio,
  2. distinctly,
  3. distingue,
  4. distinguish,
  5. distinguishable,
  6. distinguished conduct medal,
  7. distinguished flying cross,
  8. distinguished service cross,
  9. distinguished service medal,
  10. distinguished service order

Origin of distinguished

First recorded in 1600–10; distinguish + -ed2

Related formsdis·tin·guished·ly, adverbnon·dis·tin·guished, adjectivewell-dis·tin·guished, adjective

Can be confuseddistinctive distinguished

Synonym study

1. See famous.



verb (used with object)

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.

verb (used without object)

to indicate or show a difference (usually followed by between).
to recognize or note differences; discriminate.

Origin of distinguish

1555–65; extension, by -ish2, of Middle English disting(u)en (< Anglo-French, Middle French distinguer) < Latin distinguere; see distinct

Related forms

Synonym study

2. Distinguish, differentiate, discriminate suggest an attempt to analyze characteristic features or qualities of things. To distinguish is to recognize the characteristic features belonging to a thing: to distinguish a light cruiser from a heavy cruiser. To discriminate is to perceive the particular, nice, or exact differences between things, to determine wherein these differences consist, and to estimate their significance: to discriminate prejudiced from unprejudiced testimony. To differentiate is to point out exactly and in detail the differences between (usually) two things: The symptoms of both diseases are so similar that it is hard to differentiate one from another.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for distinguished

British Dictionary definitions for distinguished



noble or dignified in appearance or behaviour
eminent; famous; celebrated


verb (mainly tr)

(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
Derived Forms

Word Origin for distinguish

C16: from Latin distinguere to separate, discriminate

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 distinguished
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper