distinguish


distinguish
verb
1)

distinguishing reality from fantasy

Syn:
differentiate, tell apart, discriminate between, tell the difference between
2)

he could distinguish shapes in the dark

Syn:
discern, see, perceive, make out; detect, recognize, identify; literary descry, espy
3)

this is what distinguishes history from other disciplines

Syn:
separate, set apart, make distinctive, make different; single out, mark off, characterize
••
distinguish, descry, differentiate, discern, discriminate
What we discern we see apart from all other objects (to discern the lighthouse beaming on the far shore). Descry puts even more emphasis on the distant or unclear nature of what we're seeing (the lookout was barely able to descry a man approaching in the dusk). To discriminate is to perceive the differences between or among things that are very similar; it may suggest that some aesthetic evaluation is involved (to discriminate between two painters' styles). Distinguish requires making even finer distinctions among things that resemble each other even more closely (unable to distinguish the shadowy figures moving through the forest). Distinguish can also mean recognizing by some special mark or outward sign (the sheriff could be distinguished by his silver badge). Differentiate, on the other hand, suggests the ability to perceive differences between things that are easily confused. In contrast to distinguish, differentiate suggests subtle differences that must be compared in some detail (the color of her dress was difficult to differentiate from the color of the chair in which she was seated; it took a sharp eye to distinguish where her skirt ended and the upholstery began) If you have trouble differentiating among these closely related verbs, you're not alone.

Thesaurus of popular words. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • distinguish — dis·tin·guish vt: to identify or explain differences in or from distinguish ed the cases on factual grounds Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. distinguish …   Law dictionary

  • Distinguish — Dis*tin guish, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Distinguished}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Distinguishing}.] [F. distinguer, L. distinguere, distinctum; di = dis + stinguere to quench, extinguish; prob. orig., to prick, and so akin to G. stechen, E. stick, and perh.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distinguish — 1 Distinguish, differentiate, discriminate, demarcate are synonymous when they mean to point out or mark the differences between things that are or seem to be much alike or closely related. Distinguish presupposes sources of confusion; the things …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • distinguish — [di stiŋ′gwish] vt. [< L distinguere, to separate, discriminate < dis , apart + stinguere, to prick < IE base * steig , to prick, pierce (> STICK, Ger sticken, to embroider, Gr stigma) + ISH, sense 2] 1. to separate or mark off by… …   English World dictionary

  • distinguish — [v1] tell the difference analyze, ascertain, categorize, characterize, classify, collate, decide, demarcate, determinate, determine, diagnose, diagnosticate, differentiate, discriminate, divide, estimate, extricate, figure out, finger*, identify …   New thesaurus

  • distinguish — ► VERB 1) recognize, show, or treat as different. 2) manage to discern (something barely perceptible). 3) be an identifying characteristic of. 4) (distinguish oneself) make oneself worthy of respect. DERIVATIVES distinguishable adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • Distinguish — Dis*tin guish, v. i. 1. To make distinctions; to perceive the difference; to exercise discrimination; with between; as, a judge distinguishes between cases apparently similar, but differing in principle. [1913 Webster] 2. To become distinguished… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distinguish — 1560s, from M.Fr. distinguiss , stem of distinguer, or directly from L. distinguere to separate between, separate by pricking, from dis apart (see DIS (Cf. dis )) + stinguere to prick (see EXTINGUISH (Cf. extinguish), and Cf. L. instinguere …   Etymology dictionary

  • distinguish */*/*/ — UK [dɪˈstɪŋɡwɪʃ] / US verb Word forms distinguish : present tense I/you/we/they distinguish he/she/it distinguishes present participle distinguishing past tense distinguished past participle distinguished 1) [intransitive/transitive] to recognize …   English dictionary

  • distinguish — dis|tin|guish [ dı stıŋgwıʃ ] verb *** 1. ) intransitive or transitive to recognize the differences between things: DIFFERENTIATE: He learned to distinguish a great variety of birds, animals, and plants. distinguish between: They concluded that… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • distinguish — 01. Children under the age of 4 cannot always [distinguish] between the truth and a lie. 02. Witnesses to the crime said the suspect had no [distinguishing] features. 03. The Beatles [distinguished] themselves as perhaps the most important… …   Grammatical examples in English


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