verb (used without object), dis·crim·i·nat·ed, dis·crim·i·nat·ing.
- to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit; show partiality: The new law discriminates against foreigners. He discriminates in favor of his relatives.
- to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately: to discriminate between things.
verb (used with object), dis·crim·i·nat·ed, dis·crim·i·nat·ing.
- to make or constitute a distinction in or between; differentiate: a mark that discriminates the original from the copy.
- to note or distinguish as different: He can discriminate minute variations in tone.
- marked by discrimination; making or evidencing nice distinctions: discriminate people; discriminate judgments.
- (intr; usually foll by in favour of or against) to single out a particular person, group, etc, for special favour or, esp, disfavour, often because of a characteristic such as race, colour, sex, intelligence, etc
- (when intr, foll by between or among) to recognize or understand the difference (between); distinguishto discriminate right and wrong; to discriminate between right and wrong
- (intr) to constitute or mark a difference
- (intr) to be discerning in matters of taste
- showing or marked by discrimination
1620s, from Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare “to divide, separate,” from discrimen (genitive discriminis) “interval, distinction, difference,” derived noun from discernere (see discern). The adverse (usually racial) sense is first recorded 1866, American English. Positive sense remains in discriminating. Related: Discriminated. Also used 17c. and after as an adjective meaning “distinct.”