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distinguish

[dih-sting-gwish] /dɪˈstɪŋ gwɪʃ/
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)
8.
to indicate or show a difference (usually followed by between).
9.
to recognize or note differences; discriminate.
Origin
1555-1565
1555-65; extension, by -ish2, of Middle English disting(u)en (< Anglo-French, Middle French distinguer) < Latin distinguere; see distinct
Related forms
distinguishable, adjective
distinguishableness, distinguishability, noun
distinguishably, adverb
distinguisher, noun
distinguishment, noun
interdistinguish, verb (used with object)
nondistinguishable, adjective
nondistinguishableness, noun
nondistinguishably, adverb
predistinguish, verb (used with object)
redistinguish, verb
undistinguishable, adjective
Can be confused
distinctive, distinguishable, distinguished.
Synonyms
2. Distinguish, differentiate, discriminate suggest an attempt to analyze characteristic features or qualities of things. To distinguish is to recognize the characteristic features belonging to a thing: to distinguish a light cruiser from a heavy cruiser. To discriminate is to perceive the particular, nice, or exact differences between things, to determine wherein these differences consist, and to estimate their significance: to discriminate prejudiced from unprejudiced testimony. To differentiate is to point out exactly and in detail the differences between (usually) two things: The symptoms of both diseases are so similar that it is hard to differentiate one from another.
Antonyms
2. confuse.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for distinguishable
  • And there will be looking in ancient rock to find distinguishable remains.
  • It became generalized to mean any area into which any distinguishable group was restricted, by law or economic necessity.
  • That's a lot of if's and not otherwise distinguishable from any other period before or after.
  • Species are distinguishable by the formidable crown of horns adorning their head and the numerous spines across their back.
  • Mudpuppies are easily distinguishable by their bushy, red external gills, which they grow as larva and never lose.
  • They are also distinguishable by a row of skin flaps along their arms and legs, which resembles a serrated knife.
  • Formerly an art movement, no longer distinguishable from everyday life.
  • The result has been a glut of barely distinguishable identifiers.
  • For many other searches, the results are barely distinguishable.
  • These concepts are distinguishable from each other and fundamentally different.
British Dictionary definitions for distinguishable

distinguish

/dɪˈstɪŋɡwɪʃ/
verb (mainly transitive)
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) noteworthy: he distinguished himself by his cowardice
6.
to classify; categorize: we distinguished three species
Derived Forms
distinguishable, adjective
distinguishably, adverb
distinguisher, noun
distinguishing, adjective
distinguishingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin distinguere to separate, discriminate
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 distinguishable
adj.

1590s; see distinguish + -able. Related: Distinguishably.

distinguish

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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