Definition of identity in English:


Syllabification: i·den·ti·ty
Pronunciation: /īˈdentitē

noun (plural identities)

  • 1The fact of being who or what a person or thing is: he knows the identity of the bombers she believes she is the victim of mistaken identity
    More example sentences
    • In fact, her identity as a citizen in urban India is one that is minimally developed, if at all.
    • It doesn't matter that the joke is about mistaken identity or the fact that they're chasing the wrong vehicle - Atkinson can make you laugh at it anyway.
    • Being one of the king's personal guests had given them a special status despite the fact that their identities had yet to be given.
    name, ID; specificationidentification, recognition, naming, singling out
  • 1.1The characteristics determining this: attempts to define a distinct Canadian identity
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    • That is, what about people who deliberately disrupt the continuity that ordinarily characterizes our identity?
    • My appreciation of this country stems from the fact that our national identity is impossible to pin down.
    • What should be one of the most important facts of our national identity is instead one of the government's most closely guarded secrets!
    individuality, self, selfhood; personality, character, originality, distinctiveness, differentness, singularity, uniqueness
  • 1.2 [as modifier] chiefly British (Of an object) serving to establish who the holder, owner, or wearer is by bearing their name and often other details such as a signature or photograph: an identity card
    More example sentences
    • Tickets issued at student fares are only valid for travel in conjunction with a valid student identity card bearing a photograph of the holder.
    • Young people across South Lakeland and Furness are being encouraged by police to carry photograph identity cards to prove their age.
    • All candidates were expected to have identity cards bearing their photographs to prevent other people sitting examinations for them.
  • 2A close similarity or affinity: the initiative created an identity between the city and the suburbs
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    • There is a close identity between Celtic FC and Roman Catholicism, and also between Rangers FC and Scottish cultural Protestantism.
    • Westmorland claims a close identity with aviation pioneering, the jubilee of which is being celebrated this week.
    • In the present case the Inspector had based his earlier conclusion on the close identity between the Company and the Second Respondent.
  • 3 Mathematics (also identity operation) A transformation that leaves an object unchanged.
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    • Any object, indeed any molecule, will contain at least one of these symmetry elements - the operation C 1 known as the identity operation - a rotation of 360°, the equivalent of doing nothing.
    • The table gives the result of all possible pairwise combinations of the four operations I, R, P and Y (which stand for the identity operation and for 180-degree rotations around the roll, pitch and yaw axes).
  • 3.1 (also identity element) An element of a set that, if combined with another element by a specified binary operation, leaves that element unchanged.
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    • Group theory studies not a single structure, but a type of structure, the pattern common to collections of objects with a binary operation, an identity element thereon, and inverses for each element.
    • First, among the operations there must be an identity element - an operation that leaves the system unchanged.
    • For example, the collection of integers under addition is a group (the identity element is 0), and groups occur throughout mathematics from geometry to combinatorics to cryptography.
  • 4 Mathematics The equality of two expressions for all values of the quantities expressed by letters, or an equation expressing this, e.g., (x + 1)2 = x2 + 2x + 1.
    More example sentences
    • Identity and equality are two fundamental binary relations which relate expressions of a given type.


late 16th century (in the sense 'quality of being identical'): from late Latin identitas, from Latin idem 'same'.

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