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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 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 unidentified
  • The air around me was filled with mostly unidentified flying objects.
  • And yes, as far as our unidentified object is concerned, time stops.
  • There is an unidentified creature below this one, within the same type of circle, but it has a ridge pattern on its back.
  • McNamara, worried that some unidentified pathogen was threatening the zoo's animals, performed her own autopsies.
  • Some hunters take dangerous shots at unidentified flashes of movement, occasionally resulting in tragedy.
  • They tell of two night incidents when rifle shots were fired at the picketers by unidentified persons.
  • These two sources of foreign exchange must, then, have been offset by an unidentified drain.
  • Fire-presumably set by still unidentified attackers-had ravaged almost every building.
  • Captured by the photographer's flash, an unidentified fish takes center stage with a backdrop of a red vase sponge.
  • Researchers snorkeling among coral reefs discovered and gently dug up this unidentified sea pen for later study.
British Dictionary definitions for unidentified


not identified or recognized: an unidentified man
Derived Forms
unidentifiable, adjective


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 unidentified

1860, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of 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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