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distinguish

[dih-sting-gwish]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to mark off as different (often followed by from or by): He was distinguished from the other boys by his height.
  2. 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.
  3. to perceive clearly by sight or other sense; discern; recognize: He could not distinguish many of the words.
  4. to set apart as different; be a distinctive characteristic of; characterize: It is his Italian accent that distinguishes him.
  5. to make prominent, conspicuous, or eminent: to distinguish oneself in battle.
  6. to divide into classes; classify: Let us distinguish the various types of metaphor.
  7. Archaic. to single out for or honor with special attention.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to indicate or show a difference (usually followed by between).
  2. to recognize or note differences; discriminate.
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Origin of distinguish

1555–65; extension, by -ish2, of Middle English disting(u)en (< Anglo-French, Middle French distinguer) < Latin distinguere; see distinct
Related formsdis·tin·guish·a·ble, adjectivedis·tin·guish·a·ble·ness, dis·tin·guish·a·bil·i·ty, noundis·tin·guish·a·bly, adverbdis·tin·guish·er, noundis·tin·guish·ment, nounin·ter·dis·tin·guish, verb (used with object)non·dis·tin·guish·a·ble, adjectivenon·dis·tin·guish·a·ble·ness, nounnon·dis·tin·guish·a·bly, adverbpre·dis·tin·guish, verb (used with object)re·dis·tin·guish, verbun·dis·tin·guish·a·ble, adjective

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.

Antonyms

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

Related Words

discriminatedivideseparaterecognizecharacterizequalifyidentifydifferentiatedeterminecategorizeanalyzeknownoticedetectreadperceivediscoverseeadmirediagnose

Examples from the Web for distinguishes

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is this that distinguishes this class of foods from animal foods.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something.

  • The faculty that distinguishes a weak animal or person from a strong one.

  • A man only is so who understands, who distinguishes, who tests it.

    Reflections

    Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

  • Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing.


British Dictionary definitions for distinguishes

distinguish

verb (mainly tr)
  1. (when intr, foll by between or among) to make, show, or recognize a difference or differences (between or among); differentiate (between)
  2. to be a distinctive feature of; characterize
  3. to make out; perceive
  4. to mark for a special honour or title
  5. to make (oneself) noteworthyhe distinguished himself by his cowardice
  6. to classify; categorizewe distinguished three species
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Derived Formsdistinguishable, adjectivedistinguishably, adverbdistinguisher, noundistinguishing, adjectivedistinguishingly, adverb

Word Origin

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 distinguishes

distinguish

v.

1560s, from Middle French distinguiss-, stem of distinguer, or directly from Latin distinguere "to separate between, separate by pricking," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + -stinguere "to prick" (see extinguish, and cf. Latin instinguere "to incite, impel").

The suffix -ish is due to the influence of many verbs in which it is the equivalent of Old French -iss-, ultimately from Latin inchoative suffix -iscere (this is also the case in extinguish, admonish, and astonish). Related: Distinguishing. The earlier form of the verb was distinguen (mid-14c.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper