View synonyms for identity


[ ahy-den-ti-tee, ih-den- ]


, plural i·den·ti·ties.
  1. the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions:

    The identity of the fingerprints on the gun with those on file provided evidence that he was the killer.

  2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:

    He began to doubt his own identity.

  3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing:

    a case of mistaken identity;

    a male gender identity;

    immigrants with strong ethnic identities.

  4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
  5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses, as schizophrenia.

    Synonyms: uniqueness, distinctiveness, personality, individuality

  6. exact likeness in nature or qualities:

    an identity of interests.

  7. an instance or point of sameness or likeness:

    to mistake resemblances for identities.

  8. Logic. an assertion that two terms refer to the same thing.
  9. Mathematics.
    1. an equation that is valid for all values of its variables.
    2. Also called identity element,. an element in a set such that the element operating on any other element of the set leaves the second element unchanged.
    3. the property of a function or map such that each element is mapped into itself.
    4. the function or map itself.
  10. Australian Informal. an interesting, famous, or eccentric resident, usually of long standing in a community.


/ aɪˈdɛntɪtɪ /


  1. the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing
  2. the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized
  3. Also callednumerical identity the property of being one and the same individual

    his loss of memory did not affect his identity

  4. Also calledqualitative identity the state of being the same in nature, quality, etc

    they were linked by the identity of their tastes

  5. the state of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed

    the identity of the stolen goods has not yet been established

  6. identification of oneself as

    moving to London destroyed his Welsh identity

  7. logic
    1. that relation that holds only between any entity and itself
    2. an assertion that that relation holds, as Cicero is Tully
  8. maths
    1. an equation that is valid for all values of its variables, as in ( x y )( x + y ) = x ² – y ². Often denoted by the symbol ≡
    2. Also calledidentity element a member of a set that when operating on another member, x, produces that member x: the identity for multiplication of numbers is 1 since x .1 = 1. x = x See also inverse
  9. informal.
    a well-known person, esp in a specified locality; figure (esp in the phrase an old identity )

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Other Words From

  • non·i·den·ti·ty noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of identity1

First recorded in 1560–70; from Late Latin identitās, equivalent to Latin ident(idem) “repeatedly, again and again,” earlier unattested idem et idem ( idem neuter of īdem “the same” + et “and”) + -itās noun suffix; -ity none

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Word History and Origins

Origin of identity1

C16: from Late Latin identitās, from Latin idem the same

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Example Sentences

They were spurred by their research, which revealed Ghanaian banks to be beset by widespread identity fraud and cybercrime and spent nearly $400 million a year to identify their customers.

From Quartz

Now we have different sorts of status hierarchies for each identity—related to, for example, class or occupation—and a fire hose of social information layered on top of our personal relationships.

Acquiring these user identities is one step, the next is to connect a given user identity cohesively across all points in the brand’s digital ecosystem.

From Digiday

The information requested by these systems to verify a voter’s identity is often easily discoverable,and sometimes even a matter of public record in states that make voter files public.

From Fortune

The James Beard Foundation is experiencing something of an identity crisis.

From Eater

But he, like many people using dating apps whatever their sexual identity, remains stoutly positive.

They are not the actual traffickers, Yazbek says, so generally the other refugees protect their identity.

But those strands of his identity are all wound around the conspiracy that led him back to Gambia for the first time in 23 years.

Identity issues seem to have dogged Otis since his troubles began.

In a remote location with little means for economic development, the Brogpas have cultivating this identity to their advantage.

Now the Waterford and Limerick were to lose, not only the Ennis line, but all their lines and their own identity as well.

There is a perfect identity of principle, both working to the same good end, between the existing corn-law and the new tariff.

But in all probability, the messenger knew less about the identity of the Eye than Black Hood knew.

Some are constantly being added, others are removed from her communion on earth, but her characteristic absolute identity remains.

At least he understood how Jack Carlson had died, even if the mystery of the identity of the Eye had deepened.


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About This Word

What is identity?

Identity is the unique set of characteristics that can be used to identify a person as themself and no one else.

The word can be used in different ways in different contexts.

On a personal level, identity often refers to a person’s sense of self, meaning how they view themself as compared to other people.

Practically speaking, a person’s identity is who they really are. A detective may try to determine the identity of a suspect—meaning who that person is (including things like their real name). A case of mistaken identity involves someone being mistaken for someone they are not. Superheroes often have secret identities.

The concept of identity is complex and can involve all kinds of characteristics, qualities, experiences, interests, and other aspects of a person that make them distinct from anyone else.

In the term identity politics, identity refers to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, social, or other facets that a person considers as inherent to who they are, especially in relation to their belonging in a particular group or community of similar people.

Identity can involve physical traits, such as eye color or height, but it doesn’t necessarily involve such things. For example, the crime of identity theft usually involves stealing someone’s personal information, not their physical appearance (except in the movie Face/Off).

Example: The journalist refused to reveal the identity of her source. 

Example: Being a Black bisexual woman is a huge and important part of my identity, but it’s not my whole identity: I’m a coder; I’m a Knicks fan; I love dogs—my identity can’t be easily defined with a few words.

Where does identity come from?

The first records of the word identity come from around 1560. It ultimately comes from the Latin idem, meaning “the same.” Generally speaking, the traits that make up a person’s identity are what identifies them as remaining the same under different circumstances. For example, a person doesn’t become a different person just because they dye their hair or change their name or lose an arm. (In another sense, such a change could be considered to change a person’s identity by adding another unique aspect to it.)

Conception and discussion of identity has evolved over time, especially in the context of sexual identity, gender identity, and racial identity. In these contexts, identities relating to these characteristics were traditionally defined with rigid categories. In contrast, many modern conceptions of these aspects of identity place them along a spectrum or don’t limit them to any predefined categories.

To learn more about the complex aspects of identity—both the word and the concept—take a look at why identity was chosen as the Word of the Year in 2015.

Did you know … ?

What are some synonyms for identity?

What are some words that share a root or word element with identity

What are some words that often get used in discussing identity?

How is identity used in real life?

Identity is a complex concept, and the word can be used in various ways in different contexts.

Try using identity!

A person’s identity can involve which of the following things?

A. their gender
B. their interests
C. their job
D. all of the above




Identi-Kitidentity card