verb (used with object)

  1. to mark off as different (often followed by from or by): He was distinguished from the other boys by his height.
  2. to recognize as distinct or different; recognize the salient or individual features or characteristics of: It is hard to distinguish her from her twin sister.
  3. to perceive clearly by sight or other sense; discern; recognize: He could not distinguish many of the words.
  4. to set apart as different; be a distinctive characteristic of; characterize: It is his Italian accent that distinguishes him.
  5. to make prominent, conspicuous, or eminent: to distinguish oneself in battle.
  6. to divide into classes; classify: Let us distinguish the various types of metaphor.
  7. Archaic. to single out for or honor with special attention.

verb (used without object)

  1. to indicate or show a difference (usually followed by between).
  2. to recognize or note differences; discriminate.

verb (mainly tr)

  1. (when intr, foll by between or among) to make, show, or recognize a difference or differences (between or among); differentiate (between)
  2. to be a distinctive feature of; characterize
  3. to make out; perceive
  4. to mark for a special honour or title
  5. to make (oneself) noteworthyhe distinguished himself by his cowardice
  6. to classify; categorizewe distinguished three species

v.1560s, from Middle French distinguiss-, stem of distinguer, or directly from Latin distinguere “to separate between, separate by pricking,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) + -stinguere “to prick” (see extinguish, and cf. Latin instinguere “to incite, impel”). The suffix -ish is due to the influence of many verbs in which it is the equivalent of Old French -iss-, ultimately from Latin inchoative suffix -iscere (this is also the case in extinguish, admonish, and astonish). Related: Distinguishing. The earlier form of the verb was distinguen (mid-14c.).

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