American English

Definition of distinction noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] distinction (between A and B) a clear difference or contrast especially between people or things that are similar or related distinctions between traditional and modern societies Philosophers did not use to make a distinction between arts and science. We need to draw a distinction between the two events. AWL Collocationsdistinctdistinct adjectiveclearly different or of a different kindsufficiently clearly fundamentally, radically whollyMexican culture is sufficiently distinct in ethnic, religious, and linguistic terms to retain its individuality.functionally structurally geographically culturally analytically, logicallySingle-subject research will likely be the best way to extend our research into culturally distinct populations.remain become appearThese factors suggest that Dominicans probably will remain distinct from the American population as a whole into the twenty-first century.~ from one another, ~ from each otherOverall, the two extreme groups were found to be distinct from each other in nearly every characteristic considered.~ from somethingArt that is appreciated for its beauty is distinct from art that produces items for practical use, such as furniture.distinction nouna clear difference or contrast, especially between two things that are similar or relatedclear, sharp subtle crucial, fundamental, important conceptualHowever, subtle distinctions can generally be made between these species.blur clarify collapse, elideBoth books elide distinctions between nature and human society.draw, makeThe authors note that respondents make a sharp distinction between religion and spirituality.distinctive adjectivehaving a quality or characteristic that makes something different and easily noticedhighly, particularly, truly sufficiently individually culturallyWe marked each bird with an individually distinctive combination of colored leg bands.feature, characteristicThe most distinctive feature of these costumes is the striped, fringed skirt, woven from flax.
  2. 2[uncountable] the quality of being excellent or important a writer of distinction
  3. 3[singular] the quality of being something that is special She had the distinction of being the first woman to fly the Atlantic.
  4. 4[uncountable] distinction (between A and B) the separation of people or things into different groups The new law makes no distinction between adults and children (= treats them equally). All groups are entitled to this money without distinction.
  5. 5[countable, uncountable] a special grade or award that is given to someone, especially a student, for excellent work He graduated with distinction.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: distinction