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[ahy-den-tuh-fahy, ih-den-] /aɪˈdɛn təˌfaɪ, ɪˈdɛn-/
verb (used with object), identified, identifying.
to recognize or establish as being a particular person or thing; verify the identity of:
to identify handwriting; to identify the bearer of a check.
to serve as a means of identification for:
His gruff voice quickly identified him.
to make, represent to be, or regard or treat as the same or identical:
They identified Jones with the progress of the company.
to associate in name, feeling, interest, action, etc. (usually followed by with):
He preferred not to identify himself with that group.
Biology. to determine to what group (a given specimen) belongs.
Psychology. to associate (one or oneself) with another person or a group of persons by identification.
verb (used without object), identified, identifying.
to associate oneself in feeling, interest, action, etc., with a specified group or belief system (usually followed by as or with):
He identifies as bisexual. She identifies with feminism. My family identifies Hispanic.
to experience psychological identification:
The audience identified with the play's characters.
Origin of identify
1635-45; < Medieval Latin identificāre, equivalent to identi(tās) identity + -ficāre -fy
Related forms
identifiable, adjective
identifiability, identifiableness, noun
identifier, noun
overidentify, verb, overidentified, overidentifying.
preidentify, verb (used with object), preidentified, preidentifying.
reidentify, verb (used with object), reidentified, reidentifying.
unidentifiable, adjective
unidentifiably, adverb
unidentified, adjective
unidentifying, adjective
well-identified, adjective
1. distinguish, place, know, determine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for identify
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They know you, and know you so well that they'll be able to identify the thing in your hand as your gun.

  • It did not need Mali-ya-bwana's whispered "faru" (rhinoceros) to identify the mound.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • I shall return to this again, as I think that I have discovered it, or at least been the first to identify it.

  • It does not require a professional beggar or a licensed guide to identify him.

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • Did you identify any of those prints as belonging to a specific person?

    Warren Commission (4 of 26): Hearings Vol. IV (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
British Dictionary definitions for identify


verb (mainly transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
to prove or recognize as being a certain person or thing; determine the identity of
to consider as the same or equivalent
(also intransitive) often foll by with. to consider (oneself) as similar to another
to determine the taxonomic classification of (a plant or animal)
(psychol) (intransitive) usually foll by with. to engage in identification
Derived Forms
identifiable, adjective
identifiably, adverb
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 identify

1640s, "regard as the same," from French identifier, from identité (see identity). Sense of "recognize" first recorded 1769. Meaning "make one (with), associate (oneself)" is from 1780. Sense of "serve as means of identification" is attested by 1886. Related: Identified; identifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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