What does distinction mean?

Definitions for distinction
dɪˈstɪŋk ʃəndis·tinc·tion

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word distinction.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. differentiation, distinctionnoun

    a discrimination between things as different and distinct

    "it is necessary to make a distinction between love and infatuation"

  2. eminence, distinction, preeminence, notenoun

    high status importance owing to marked superiority

    "a scholar of great eminence"

  3. distinctionnoun

    a distinguishing quality

    "it has the distinction of being the cheapest restaurant in town"

  4. distinctionnoun

    a distinguishing difference

    "he learned the distinction between gold and lead"


  1. distinctionnoun

    That which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination.

  2. distinctionnoun

    The act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination

  3. distinctionnoun

    specifically, a feature that that causes someone or something to stand out as being better; a mark of honour, rank, eminence or excellence; being distinguished.

  4. Etymology: From (12th century) distinction, from accusative distinctionem, action noun of distinguo. Used in English from the late 14th century.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Distinctionnoun

    Etymology: distinctio, Latin.

    This faculty of perception puts the distinction betwixt the animal kingdom and the inferior parts of matter. John Locke.

    Maids, women, wives, without distinction fall;
    The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers all. Dryd.

    This fierce abridgment
    Hath to it circumstantial branches, which
    Distinction should be rich in. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    The distinction of it into acts was not known unto them; or, if it were, it is yet so darkly delivered to us, that we cannot make it out. John Dryden, on Dramatick Poesy.

    The mixture of those things by speech, which by nature are divided, is the mother of all error: to take away therefore that error, which confusion breedeth, distinction is requisite. Richard Hooker, b. iii. s. 3.

    Lawfulness cannot be handled without limitations and distinctions. Francis Bacon, Holy War.

    This will puzzle all your logick
    And distinctions to answer it. John Denham, Sophy.

    From this distinction of real and apparent good, some distinguish happiness into two sorts, real and imaginary. John Norris.


  1. distinction

    Distinction refers to the quality of being notably different or unique in comparison to something else. It is often a special honor, achievement, or characteristic that sets someone or something apart from others. It can also refer to a clear difference or contrast between similar things or people.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Distinctionnoun

    a marking off by visible signs; separation into parts; division

  2. Distinctionnoun

    the act of distinguishing or denoting the differences between objects, or the qualities by which one is known from others; exercise of discernment; discrimination

  3. Distinctionnoun

    that which distinguishes one thing from another; distinguishing quality; sharply defined difference; as, the distinction between real and apparent good

  4. Distinctionnoun

    estimation of difference; regard to differences or distinguishing circumstance

  5. Distinctionnoun

    conspicuous station; eminence; superiority; honorable estimation; as, a man of distinction


  1. Distinction

    Distinction is a principle under international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict, whereby belligerents must distinguish between combatants and civilians. Distinction and proportionality are important factors in assessing military necessity in that the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by an attack on a military objective.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Distinction

    dis-tingk′shun, n. separation or division: that which distinguishes or gives distinction: difference: eminence: characteristic dignity and elegance of style: honourable treatment.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. distinction

    Flags of distinction, badges, honourable note of superiority.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'distinction' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2428

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'distinction' in Nouns Frequency: #939

How to pronounce distinction?

How to say distinction in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of distinction in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of distinction in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of distinction in a Sentence

  1. Michael Carvin:

    The kind of things they can require plaintiffs to pay for, they are just as important as a matter of public concern and just as ideological as things they can’t charge them for. We don’t see any real distinction.

  2. Governor Larry Hogan:

    Maryland is home to some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, a distinction we should not be proud of.

  3. George Spencer-Brown:

    We take as given the idea of distinction and the idea of indication, and that one cannot make an indication without drawing a distinction. We take therefore the form of distinction for the form.

  4. Paul Dergarabedian:

    The stellar performance of' Top Gun : Maverick' marks an important turning point, this is a very important weekend for both the industry and Cruise who has demonstrated his undeniable star power and status as a true movie star in an era where this type of distinction has become increasingly rare.

  5. William Schaffner:

    There's a distinction between hopeful and reality. It's good to hope but it is much too early to conclude that Omicron only produces mild infections. We don't have those data, covid has thrown us several curveballs.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for distinction

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"distinction." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 1 Mar. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/distinction>.

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