- 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.
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.
- 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
to make a distinction (between or among)
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.
To perceive or indicate differences; discriminate: Can the child distinguish between right and wrong?
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)
distinguish - Legal Definition
In a judicial decision, or an argument such as a brief in support of a particular legal outcome, to note or argue that a prior decision of the same or another court is inapplicable as precedent, because of significant differences in the facts or in the legal posture of the two cases.