American English

Definition of distinguish verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they distinguish
    he / she / it distinguishes
    past simple distinguished
    -ing form distinguishing
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to recognize the difference between two people or things synonym differentiate distinguish between A and B At what age are children able to distinguish between right and wrong? The state's laws clearly distinguish between murder and manslaughter. distinguish A from B It was hard to distinguish one twin from the other. distinguish A and B Sometimes reality and fantasy are hard to distinguish. We can distinguish five meanings of the word “distant.”
  2. 2[transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) distinguish A (from B) to be a characteristic that makes two people, animals, or things different What was it that distinguished her from her classmates? The male bird is distinguished from the female by its red beak. Does your cat have any distinguishing marks? The power of speech distinguishes human beings from animals.
  3. 3[transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) distinguish something to be able to see or hear something synonym differentiate, make somebody/somethingout I could not distinguish her words, but she sounded agitated. She could not distinguish the make and color of the car in the fading light.
  4. 4[transitive] distinguish yourself (as something) to do something so well that people notice and admire you She has already distinguished herself as an athlete.
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adjective distinguishable (from somebody/something) The male bird is easily distinguishable from the female. The coast was barely distinguishable in the mist.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: distinguish