What does distinguish mean?

Definitions for distinguish
dɪˈstɪŋ gwɪʃdis·tin·guish

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word distinguish.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. distinguish, separate, differentiate, secern, secernate, severalize, severalise, tell, tell apartverb

    mark as different

    "We distinguish several kinds of maple"

  2. spot, recognize, recognise, distinguish, discern, pick out, make out, tell apartverb

    detect with the senses

    "The fleeing convicts were picked out of the darkness by the watchful prison guards"; "I can't make out the faces in this photograph"

  3. distinguish, mark, differentiateverb

    be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait; sometimes in a very positive sense

    "His modesty distinguishes him from his peers"

  4. signalize, signalise, distinguishverb

    make conspicuous or noteworthy

  5. identify, discover, key, key out, distinguish, describe, nameverb

    identify as in botany or biology, for example


  1. distinguishverb

    To see someone or something as different from others.

  2. distinguishverb

    To see someone or something clearly or distinctly.

  3. distinguishverb

    To make one's self noticeably different or better from others through accomplishments.

  4. Etymology: From distingwen, from distinguer, from distinguere, from di- for dis- + *; see sting, stigma, style. Compare extinguish.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary


    Etymology: distinguo, Latin.

    Rightly to distinguish, is, by conceit of the mind, to sever things different in nature, and to discern wherein they differ. Richard Hooker, b. iii. s. 3.

    They distinguish my poems from those of other men, and have made me their peculiar care. John Dryden, Fables, Dedicat.

    Let us revolve that roll with strictest eye,
    Where, safe from time, distinguish’d actions lie. Matthew Prior.

    Moses distinguishes the causes of the flood into those that belong to the heavens, and those that belong to the earth, the rains, and the abyss. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth.

    So long
    As he could make me, with this eye or ear,
    Distinguish him from others, he did keep
    The deck. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    We have not yet been seen in any house,
    Nor can we be distinguish’d by our faces,
    For man or master. William Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew.

    By our reason we are enabled to distinguish good from evil, as well as truth from falshood. Isaac Watts, Logick.

    Sweet, the untainted virtue of your years
    Hath not yet div’d into the world’s deceit;
    Nor more can you distinguish of a man,
    Than of his outward shew! William Shakespeare, Richard III.

    St. Paul’s Epistles contain nothing but points of christian instruction, amongst which he seldom fails to enlarge on the great and distinguishing doctrines of our holy religion. John Locke.

  2. To Distinguishverb

    To make distinction; to find or shew the difference.

    He would warily distinguish between the profit of the merchant and the gain of the kingdom. Josiah Child, Disc. on Trade.

    The readers must learn by all means to distinguish between proverbs and those polite speeches which beautify conversation. Jonathan Swift.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Distinguishverb

    not set apart from others by visible marks; to make distinctive or discernible by exhibiting differences; to mark off by some characteristic

  2. Distinguishverb

    to separate by definition of terms or logical division of a subject with regard to difference; as, to distinguish sounds into high and low

  3. Distinguishverb

    to recognize or discern by marks, signs, or characteristic quality or qualities; to know and discriminate (anything) from other things with which it might be confounded; as, to distinguish the sound of a drum

  4. Distinguishverb

    to constitute a difference; to make to differ

  5. Distinguishverb

    to separate from others by a mark of honor; to make eminent or known; to confer distinction upon; -- with by or for

  6. Distinguishverb

    to make distinctions; to perceive the difference; to exercise discrimination; -- with between; as, a judge distinguishes between cases apparently similar, but differing in principle

  7. Distinguishverb

    to become distinguished or distinctive; to make one's self or itself discernible

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Distinguish

    dis-ting′gwish, v.t. to mark off, set apart (often with from): to recognise by characteristic qualities: to discern critically: to separate by a mark of honour: to make eminent or known.—v.i. to make or show distinctions or differences, to recognise the difference (with from, between).—adj. Disting′uishable, that may be capable of being distinguished.—adv. Disting′uishably.—p.adj. Disting′uished, illustrious.—n. Disting′uisher.—p.adj. Disting′uishing, peculiar.—n. Disting′uishment (Shak.), distinction. [Through Fr. from L. distinguĕre, distinctumdis, asunder, stinguĕre, to prick, conn. with Gr. stizein, to mark. See Sting.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'distinguish' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4481

  2. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'distinguish' in Verbs Frequency: #485

How to pronounce distinguish?

How to say distinguish in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of distinguish in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of distinguish in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of distinguish in a Sentence

  1. Paul Greene:

    Her urine was consistent with the consumption of pork that was containing high levels of nandrolone. We told this to the lab before her B-sample was tested. Under the rules they were supposed to account for it. When your urinary markers are where they were with Shelby’s – in the very, very low range – it is impossible for the machine that does the testing to distinguish between these two, there’s a way to do that called an atypical finding and that’s what we think should have been done in Shelby’s case and it wasn’t.

  2. Adam Schiff:

    The algorithms which power social media platforms as well as Amazon's recommendations are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and as a result harmful anti-vaccine messages have been able to thrive and spread, every online platform, including Amazon, must act responsibly and ensure that they do not contribute to this growing public health catastrophe.

  3. Kok Chwee Sim:

    At night and in darkness, one could even distinguish a Boeing aircraft from an Airbus aircraft by the way the strobe -- the white light at the tip of the wing -- blinks.

  4. Merlin Sheldrake:

    The human sense of smell is extraordinary. Our eyes can distinguish several million colours, our ears can distinguish half a million tones, but our noses can distinguish well over a trillion different odours. Humans can detect virtually all volatile chemicals ever tested.

  5. Ian Lipkin:

    You can not distinguish between somebody being infected in December or being infected in March or April.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for distinguish

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    denote or connote
    • A. conceal
    • B. signify
    • C. embark
    • D. distinguish

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