- The definition of distinguish is to recognize differences, or to be identified as a characteristic of something, or to earn a position of status or high esteem.
- When you can tell the difference between white and yellow, this is an example of when you distinguish.
- When a person is given the title Teacher of the Year, this is an example of when you honor or distinguish someone.
- to separate or mark off by differences; perceive or show the difference in; differentiate
- to be an essential characteristic of; characterize
- to perceive clearly; recognize plainly by any of the senses
- to separate and classify
- to make famous or eminent; give distinction to: to distinguish oneself in battle
Origin of distinguish; from Classical Latin distinguere, to separate, discriminate ; from dis-, apart + -stinguere, to prick ; from Indo-European base an unverified form steig-, to prick, pierce (from source stick, German sticken, to embroider, Classical Greek stigma) + -ish, sense
verbdis·tin·guished, dis·tin·guish·ing, dis·tin·guish·es
- a. To perceive as being different or distinct: Can you distinguish a pattern in this behavior?b. To perceive distinctly; discern: The lookout distinguished the masts of ships on the horizon.
- a. To demonstrate or describe as being different or distinct: a scientist who distinguished four species of the plant.b. To be an identifying characteristic of; make noticeable or different: These spices distinguish this style of Asian cooking.
- To cause (oneself) to be respected or eminent: They have distinguished themselves as dedicated social workers.
Origin of distinguishAlteration of obsolete distingue, from Middle English distinguen, from Old French distinguer, from Latin distinguere, to separate; see steig- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present distinguishes, present participle distinguishing, simple past and past participle distinguished)
- (to see someone or something as different from others): confuse
distinguish - Legal Definition