[ ahy-den-ti-tee, ih-den- ]
See synonyms for identity on
noun,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.

  1. 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.

  2. the state or fact of being the same one as described.

  3. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses, as schizophrenia.

  4. exact likeness in nature or qualities: an identity of interests.

  5. an instance or point of sameness or likeness: to mistake resemblances for identities.

  6. Logic. an assertion that two terms refer to the same thing.

  7. Mathematics.

    • an equation that is valid for all values of its variables.

    • Also called identity element, unit element, unity . an element in a set such that the element operating on any other element of the set leaves the second element unchanged.

    • the property of a function or map such that each element is mapped into itself.

    • the function or map itself.

  8. Australian Informal. an interesting, famous, or eccentric resident, usually of long standing in a community.

Origin of identity

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; see -ity

word story For identity

Identity comes into English via Middle French identité, ydemtité, ydemptité “the quality of being the same, sameness,” from Late Latin identitās (inflectional stem identitāt- ) “the quality of being the same, the condition or fact that an entity is itself and not another thing.” Identitās is formed partly from the Latin adverb identidem “again and again, repeatedly,” a contraction of idem et idem (“the same and the same”), and partly from Late Latin essentitās, a translation of Greek taủtótēs “identity” (that is, tò auto “the same” and the noun suffix -tēs “-ness”).
“One’s personal characteristics, or the sense of who one is, as perceived by the person or by others,” is a meaning of identity that dates from the early 18th century. Since then, issues of personal identity, especially sexual and gender identity, have provoked discussions about one’s overlapping roles in society. The phrase identity politics “political activity based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or social interests that characterize a group identity” was coined in 1973.

Other words for identity

Other words from identity

  • non·i·den·ti·ty, noun

Words Nearby identity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use identity in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for identity


/ (aɪˈdɛntɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  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

  1. Also called: numerical identity the property of being one and the same individual: his loss of memory did not affect his identity

  2. Also called: qualitative identity the state of being the same in nature, quality, etc: they were linked by the identity of their tastes

  3. 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

  4. identification of oneself as: moving to London destroyed his Welsh identity

  5. logic

    • that relation that holds only between any entity and itself

    • an assertion that that relation holds, as Cicero is Tully

  6. maths

    • an equation that is valid for all values of its variables, as in (xy)(x + y) = x ² – y ². Often denoted by the symbol ≡

    • Also called: identity 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 (def. 2b)

  7. Australian and NZ informal a well-known person, esp in a specified locality; figure (esp in the phrase an old identity)

Origin of identity

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

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