Definition of identify in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ʌɪˈdɛntɪfʌɪ/

verb (identifies, identifying, identified)

[with object]
1Establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is: the judge ordered that the girl should not be identified the men identified themselves as federal police
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, pin down, put one's finger on, put a name to, name, place, know, know again, know by sight, discern, distinguish, discover, find, locate;
remember, recall, recollect, call to mind
informal put the finger on
North American informal finger
1.1Recognize or distinguish (especially something considered worthy of attention): a system that ensures that the pupil’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, find out, discover, learn, fix, settle, decide, make out, ferret out, diagnose, deduce, divine, intuit, discern, distinguish;
verify, confirm, make certain of, certify
informal figure out, get a fix on
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/thing with) Associate someone or something closely with; regard 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, couple, relate, bracket, think of together;
think of in connection with, draw a parallel with, mention in the same breath as, set side by side with
2.1Equate (someone or something) with: because of my country 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.
equate with, identify someone as, consider someone/something to be, regard as being the same as, regard as being identical to
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, be in tune, have a rapport, feel togetherness, feel at one, commune, sympathize, be in sympathy;
be on the same wavelength as, speak/talk the same language as;
understand, relate to, feel for, have insight into
informal put oneself in the shoes of


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


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: iden|tify

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.