[ ahy-den-ti-tee, ih-den- ]
/ aɪˈdɛn tɪ ti, ɪˈdɛn- /

noun, plural i·den·ti·ties.


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Origin of identity

1560–70; < Late Latin identitās, equivalent to Latin ident(idem) repeatedly, again and again, earlier *idem et idem (idem neuter of īdem the same + et and) + -itās -ity

historical usage of 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.


non·i·den·ti·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for identity

British Dictionary definitions for identity

/ (aɪˈdɛntɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

Word Origin for 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

Medical definitions for identity

[ ī-dĕntĭ-tē ]


The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group.
The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity; individuality.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.