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[dif-uh-ren-shee-eyt] /ˌdɪf əˈrɛn ʃiˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), differentiated, differentiating.
to form or mark differently from other such things; distinguish.
to change; alter.
to perceive the difference in or between.
to make different by modification, as a biological species.
Mathematics. to obtain the differential or the derivative of.
verb (used without object), differentiated, differentiating.
to become unlike or dissimilar; change in character.
to make a distinction.
Biology. (of cells or tissues) to change from relatively generalized to specialized kinds, during development.
Origin of differentiate
1810-20; < Medieval Latin differentiātus distinguished (past participle of differentiāre), equivalent to Latin different(ia) difference + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
differentiation, noun
interdifferentiate, verb (used with object), interdifferentiated, interdifferentiating.
redifferentiate, verb, redifferentiated, redifferentiating.
self-differentiating, adjective
undifferentiated, adjective
1. set off. See distinguish. 3. separate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for differentiate
  • We see how people compartmentalize themselves and differentiate themselves from animals to express power, control and superiority.
  • He could differentiate colors and shapes and knew more than 100 words.
  • One of the challenges was to differentiate them all, give them all things to do and turn them into clear-cut characters.
  • Scientists have long been studying the process of how mammalian stem cells differentiate to form specific types of brain cells.
  • But the car-rental industry doesn't seem to differentiate.
  • It is important to differentiate between the two.
  • It grows ever harder, he says, for companies to differentiate their products by quality or price.
  • The geological survey's tests did not differentiate the dust by particle size.
  • The scientific method remains the best tool we have to differentiate the two.
  • We need to differentiate between school and job.
British Dictionary definitions for differentiate


(transitive) to serve to distinguish between
when intr, often foll by between. to perceive, show, or make a difference (in or between); discriminate
(intransitive) to become dissimilar or distinct
(maths) to perform a differentiation on (a quantity, expression, etc)
(intransitive) (of unspecialized cells, etc) to change during development to more specialized forms
Derived Forms
differentiator, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for differentiate

1816, from Medieval Latin differentiatus, past participle of differentiare, from Latin differentia (see difference).

Originally a mathematical term; transitive and non-technical sense of "discriminate between" is from 1876. Earlier, difference had been used as a verb in this sense. Related: Differentiated; differentiating; differentiation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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