Definition of identify in English:

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Pronunciation: /īˈden(t)əˌfī/

verb (identifies, identifying, identified)

[with object]
1Establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is: the judge ordered that the girl not be identified the contact would identify himself simply as Cobra
More example sentences
  • Social workers used these indicators to identify a local family as satanic abusers.
  • Pupils will learn how to identify plants and explore the ways that seeds can be dispersed.
  • It also helped in identifying them; learning how they behaved, what they ate and so on.
recognize, single out, pick out, spot, point out, pinpoint, put one's finger on, put a name to, name, know;
discern, distinguish;
remember, recall, recollect
informal finger
formal espy
1.1Recognize or distinguish (especially something considered worthy of attention): a system that ensures that the student’s real needs are identified
More example sentences
  • By watching the workings of our own mind we can learn how to identify these delusions.
  • Before we can identify any turning points, it is necessary to establish a starting point.
  • The International Labour Organisation identifies the following factors that indicate forced labour.
determine, establish, ascertain, make out, diagnose, discern, distinguish;
verify, confirm
informal figure out, get a fix on, peg
1.2 [no object] (identify as) Assign (a particular characteristic or categorization) to oneself; describe oneself as belonging to (a particular category or group): she identifies as a feminist 3.2% of the men identified as gay or bisexual
2 (identify someone/something with) Associate (someone) closely with; regard (someone) as having strong links with: he was equivocal about being identified too closely with the peace movement
More example sentences
  • There is also a strong tendency to identify the court with absolute rule.
  • People closely identified the war with western corporate greed.
  • When physicists write or say ‘as Newton/Einstein/Bohr/Feynman once said…’, it immediately gives them authority by closely identifying them with one of the giants of physics - or so they think.
associate, link, connect, relate, bracket, couple;
mention in the same breath as, put side by side with
2.1Equate (someone or something) with: because of my upstate accent, people identified me with a homely farmer’s wife
More example sentences
  • The Romans identified her with Minerva, a goddess of the household and of craftsmen.
  • Baudelaire identified the modern with the Now and, if not quite co-extensively then relatedly, with the New.
2.2 [no object] (identify with) Regard oneself as sharing the same characteristics or thinking as someone else: I liked Fromm and identified with him
More example sentences
  • The main avenue by which Muldrow identifies with animals and their characteristics is dreaming.
  • In other words, the cross is no more than Jesus identifying with our suffering, sharing in the pathos of it.
  • He urges us to identify with them and share their inmost hopes and fears, their solitude.
empathize with, be in tune with, have a rapport with, feel at one with, sympathize with;
be on the same wavelength as, speak the same language as;
understand, relate to, feel for


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'treat as being identical with'): from medieval Latin identificare, from late Latin identitas (see identity) + Latin -ficare (from facere 'make').

Words that rhyme with identify

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