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Distinguish definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

DISTINGUISH, v.t. [L. Gr. The primary sense is, to prick, to pierce with a sharp point, to thrust in or on; and we retain the precise word in the verb, to stick, which see. The practice of making marks by puncturing, or sticking, gave rise to the applications of this word, as such marks were used to note and ascertain different things, to distinguish them. See Distinguish.]
1. To ascertain and indicate difference by some external mark. The farmer distinguishes his sheep by marking their ears. The manufacturer distinguishes pieces of cloth by some mark or impression.
2. To separate one thing from another by some mark or quality; to know or ascertain difference.
First, by sight; as, to distinguish ones own children from others by their features.
Secondly, by feeling. A blind man distinguishes an egg from an orange, but rarely distinguishes colors.
Thirdly, by smell; as, it is easy to distinguish the small of a peach from that of an apple.
Fourthly, by taste; as, to distinguish a plum from a pear.
Fifthly, by hearing; as to distinguish the sound of a drum from that of a violin.
Sixthly, by the understanding; as, to distinguish vice form virtue, truth from falsehood.
3. To separate or divide by any mark or quality which constitutes difference. We distinguish sounds into high and low, soft and harsh, lively and grave. We distinguish causes into direct and indirect, immediate and mediate.
4. To discern critically; to judge.
Not more can you distinguish of a man, than of his outward show.
5. To separate from others by some mark of honor or preference. Homer and Virgil are distinguished as poets; Demosthenes and Cicero, as orators.
6. To make eminent or known.
DISTINGUISH, v.i. To make a distinction; to find or show the difference. It is the province of a judge to distinguish between cases apparently similar, but differing in principle.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

v
1: mark as different; "We distinguish several kinds of maple" [syn: distinguish, separate, differentiate, secern, secernate, severalize, severalise, tell, tell apart]
2: 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" [syn: spot, recognize, recognise, distinguish, discern, pick out, make out, tell apart]
3: be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait; sometimes in a very positive sense; "His modesty distinguishes him from his peers" [syn: distinguish, mark, differentiate]
4: make conspicuous or noteworthy [syn: signalize, signalise, distinguish]
5: identify as in botany or biology, for example [syn: identify, discover, key, key out, distinguish, describe, name]

Merriam Webster's

verb Etymology: alteration of Middle English distinguen, from Anglo-French distinguer, from Latin distinguere, literally, to separate by pricking, from dis- + -stinguere (akin to Latin instigare to urge on) more at stick Date: 15th century transitive verb 1. to perceive a difference in ; mentally separate <so alike they could not be distinguished> 2. a. to mark as separate or different <a policy that distinguishes him from other candidates> b. to separate into kinds, classes, or categories <distinguish words by their part of speech> c. to give prominence or distinction to <distinguished themselves in music> d. characterize <recipes distinguished by simplicity> 3. a. discern <distinguished a light in the distance> b. to single out ; take special notice of intransitive verb to perceive a difference <distinguish between right and wrong> distinguishability noun distinguishable adjective distinguishably adverb

Oxford Reference Dictionary

v. 1 tr. (often foll. by from) a see or point out the difference of; draw distinctions (cannot distinguish one from the other). b constitute such a difference (the mole distinguishes him from his twin). c draw distinctions between; differentiate. 2 tr. be a mark or property of; characterize (distinguished by his greed). 3 tr. discover by listening, looking, etc. (could distinguish two voices). 4 tr. (usu. refl.; often foll. by by) make prominent or noteworthy (distinguished himself by winning first prize). 5 tr. (often foll. by into) divide; classify. 6 intr. (foll. by between) make or point out a difference between. Derivatives: distinguishable adj. Etymology: F distinguer or L distinguere (as DIS-, stinguere stinct- extinguish): cf. EXTINGUISH

Webster's 1913 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. sting. Cf. Extinguish.] 1. Not set apart from others by visible marks; to make distinctive or discernible by exhibiting differences; to mark off by some characteristic. Not more distinguished by her purple vest, Than by the charming features of her face. --Dryden. Milton has distinguished the sweetbrier and the eglantine. --Nares. 2. To separate by definition of terms or logical division of a subject with regard to difference; as, to distinguish sounds into high and low. Moses distinguished the causes of the flood into those that belong to the heavens, and those that belong to the earth. --T. Burnet. 3. 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. We are enabled to distinguish good from evil, as well as truth from falsehood. --Watts. Nor more can you distinguish of a man, Than of his outward show. --Shak. 4. To constitute a difference; to make to differ. Who distinguisheth thee? --1 Cor. iv. 7. (Douay version). 5. To separate from others by a mark of honor; to make eminent or known; to confer distinction upon; -- with by or for.``To distinguish themselves by means never tried before.'' --Johnson. Syn: To mark; discriminate; differentiate; characterize; discern; perceive; signalize; honor; glorify.

Webster's 1913 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. 2. To become distinguished or distinctive; to make one's self or itself discernible. [R.] The little embryo . . . first distinguishes into a little knot. --Jer. Taylor.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

(distinguishes, distinguishing, distinguished) 1. If you can distinguish one thing from another or distinguish between two things, you can see or understand how they are different. Could he distinguish right from wrong?... Research suggests that babies learn to see by distinguishing between areas of light and dark... It is necessary to distinguish the policies of two successive governments. VERB: V n from n, V between pl-n, V pl-n 2. A feature or quality that distinguishes one thing from another causes the two things to be regarded as different, because only the first thing has the feature or quality. There is something about music that distinguishes it from all other art forms... The bird has no distinguishing features. VERB: V n from n, V-ing 3. If you can distinguish something, you can see, hear, or taste it although it is very difficult to detect. (FORMAL) There were cries, calls. He could distinguish voices. = discern VERB: V n 4. If you distinguish yourself, you do something that makes you famous or important. Over the next few years he distinguished himself as a leading constitutional scholar... They distinguished themselves at the Battle of Assaye. VERB: V pron-refl as n, V pron-refl

Soule's Dictionary of English Synonyms

I. v. a. 1. Characterize, mark, indicate by a mark, mark out. 2. Discriminate, discern, perceive, tell, know. 3. Separate, divide. 4. Signalize, make famous, make celebrated, make known, bring into notice. II. v. n. Make distinction, show the difference.

Moby Thesaurus

adorn, aggrandize, analyze, anatomize, atomize, be characteristic, behold, bestow honor upon, call attention to, catch sight of, categorize, change, characterize, chop logic, clap eyes on, classify, confer distinction on, contradistinguish, decide, define, demarcate, demark, denote, describe, descry, designate, desynonymize, detach, detect, determinate, determine, diagnose, difference, differentiate, dignify, discern, discover, discriminate, disengage, disequalize, disjoin, diversify, divide, draw the line, earmark, ennoble, erect, espy, extricate, feel, finger, glimpse, glorify, grace, grade, group, have, have in sight, hear, honor, identify, indicate, individualize, individuate, judge, ken, keynote, know, know again, lay eyes on, look on, look upon, magnify, make a distinction, make out, mark, mark off, mark out, mark the interface, modify, nail, note, notice, observe, part, particularize, peg, perceive, personalize, pick out, pick up, pinpoint, place, qualify, realize, recall knowledge of, recognize, refine a distinction, reidentify, remark, screen, screen out, see, segregate, select, sense, separate, set a limit, set apart, set off, set the pace, set the tone, sever, severalize, sieve, sieve out, sift, sift out, sight, signalize, single out, smell, sort, sort out, sound the keynote, specialize, split hairs, spot, spy, subdivide, sublime, subtilize, take in, taste, tell, tell apart, twig, uprear, vary, view, winnow, witness



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