, i·den·ti·fies verb, transitive
- To establish the identity of.
- To ascertain the origin, nature, or definitive characteristics of.
- Biology To determine the taxonomic classification of (an organism).
- To consider as identical or united; equate.
- To associate or affiliate (oneself) closely with a person or group.
To establish an identification with another or others.
Origin: Medieval Latin identificāre, to make to resemble
Origin: : Late Latin identitās, identity; see identity
Origin: + Latin -ficāre, -fy
- i·denˌti·fiˈa·ble adjective
In the sense “to associate or affiliate (oneself) closely with a person or group,” identify
suggests a psychological empathy with the feelings or experiences of another person, as in Most young readers of The Catcher in the Rye will readily identify (or identify themselves) with Holden Caulfield.
This usage derives originally from psychoanalytic writing, where it has a specific technical meaning, but like other terms from that field, it was widely regarded as jargon when introduced into wider use. In particular, some critics seized on the fact that in this sense the verb was often used intransitively, with no reflexive pronoun. In recent years, however, this use of identify with
without the reflexive has become standard and may have become even more conventional than the reflexive construction. Eighty-two percent of the Usage Panel accepts the sentence I find it hard to identify with any of his characters,
whereas only 63 percent now accepts this same usage when the reflexive pronoun is used, as in I find it hard to identify myself with any of his characters.