Definition of differentiate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌdɪfəˈrɛnʃɪeɪt/


[with object]
1Recognize or ascertain what makes (someone or something) different: children can differentiate the past from the present
More example sentences
  • This is the first challenge in the process of managing spam: how to get a computer to analyze these strings to recognize and differentiate the welcome from the unwelcome emails.
  • It is not yet possible for patients to recognise faces, but they can at least differentiate large objects that are moving in their environment.
  • We will also attempt to determine the line that differentiates the normal from the abnormal, and how to deal with each of these cases as a result of this demarcation.
1.1 [no object] (differentiate between) Identify differences between (two or more things or people): he is unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality
More example sentences
  • We experienced some difficulty identifying whale species during the count, especially differentiating between bowhead and gray whales.
  • However, neither system accurately identifies vehicles needed for wartime missions or differentiates between wartime- and peacetime-use vehicles.
  • While most of us can easily identify a cactus, it may be harder to differentiate between an agave and an aloe.
distinguish, discriminate, make a distinction, draw a distinction, see a difference, discern a difference, tell the difference;
discern, tell apart, recognize, identify, pick out, determine, contrast
1.2Make (someone or something) appear different or distinct: little now differentiates the firm’s products from its rivals
More example sentences
  • Distinct characteristics also differentiate this family of plants.
  • We distinguish four dimensions that differentiate federal systems.
  • In summary, the modern international system displays six sharp distinctions that differentiate it from those of the ancient and classical world.
make different, distinguish, set apart, single out, separate, segregate, mark off, characterize, individualize, individuate
2 technical Make or become different in the process of growth or development: [with object]: the receptors are developed and differentiated into sense organs [no object]: the cells differentiate into a wide variety of cell types
More example sentences
  • Proecdysial growth of the limb bud consists of rapid growth of the muscle cells that were differentiated during the basal growth period.
  • By developing suitable tests with embryonic stem cells as they differentiate to germ cells we can investigate the action of these chemicals in the laboratory.
  • Recent reports suggest that adult stem cells can differentiate into developmentally unrelated cell types.
transform, metamorphose, evolve, convert, change, become different, modify, alter, adapt
3 Mathematics Transform (a function) into its derivative.
Example sentences
  • In his reply Leibniz gave some details of the principles of his differential calculus including the rule for differentiating a function of a function.
  • We will also think about how functions are built from component parts, and how we differentiate a function by considering these parts individually and how they are combined.
  • When trying to differentiate a complicated function, the method is to decompose it into simpler components, and work with these separately.



Example sentences
  • Traditional differentiators, such as lease expensive cost, are not considered as high a priority as customer elements.
  • Customer service excellence is one of the major differentiators in India's highly competitive insurance market.
  • The performance gap between the cars will narrow, so the driver will become a more significant differentiator in success - and that will make drivers a more valuable commodity.


Early 19th century: from medieval Latin differentiat- 'carried away from', from the verb differentiare, from differentia (see differentia).

Words that rhyme with differentiate


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dif¦fer|en|ti¦ate

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