Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1500-1600
Language: French
Origin: distinguer, from Latin distinguere 'to separate using a sharp pointed object'

distinguish

verb
     
dis‧tin‧guish S3 W3
1 [intransitive and transitive] to recognize and understand the difference between two or more things or people [= differentiate]
distinguish between
His attorney argued that Cope could not distinguish between right and wrong.
distinguish somebody/something from
a method of distinguishing cancer cells from normal tissue
2 [transitive not in progressive] to be the thing that makes someone or something different or special
distinguish somebody/something from
The factor that distinguishes this company from the competition is customer service.
distinguishing feature/mark/characteristic
The main distinguishing feature of this species is the leaf shape.
3 [transitive not in progressive] written to be able to see the shape of something or hear a particular sound:
The light was too dim for me to distinguish anything clearly.
4

distinguish yourself

to do something so well that people notice and remember you:
He distinguished himself on several occasions in the civil war.

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