AskDefine | Define differentiate

Dictionary Definition



1 mark as different; "We distinguish several kinds of maple" [syn: distinguish, separate, secern, secernate, severalize, severalise, tell, tell apart]
2 be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait; sometimes in a very positive sense; "His modesty distinguishes him form his peers" [syn: distinguish, mark]
3 calculate a derivative; take the derivative [ant: integrate]
4 become different during development; "cells differentiate" [ant: dedifferentiate]
5 evolve so as to lead to a new species or develop in a way most suited to the environment [syn: speciate, specialize, specialise]
6 become distinct and acquire a different character

User Contributed Dictionary



  • italbrac RP /dɪf.əˈrɛn.tʃi.eɪt/
  • italbrac US /ˌdɪ.fəˈrɛnt.ʃi.eɪt/


  1. To show, or be the distinction between two things
    1933: The mass of the rich and poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. -- George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, Ch. XXII, pg. 120 (Harvest / Harcourt paperback edition).
  2. To perceive the difference between things; to discriminate
  3. In the context of "transitive|intransitive": To modify, or be modified.
  4. In the context of "transitive|mathematics": To calculate the derivative of a function.
  5. In the context of "transitive|mathematics": To calculate the differential of a function of multiple variables.
  6. In the context of "intransitive|biology": To produce distinct organs or to achieve specific functions by a process of development called differentiation.


to be the distinction
to discriminate
modify, be modified
to calculate the derivative
to calculate the differential
(biology) differentiation

Extensive Definition

Differentiation can mean the following:
differentiate in Czech: Diferenciace
differentiate in German: Differenzierung
differentiate in Esperanto: Derivaĵo
differentiate in French: Différenciation
differentiate in Croatian: Diferencijacija
differentiate in Norwegian Nynorsk: Differensiering
differentiate in Slovak: Diferenciácia
differentiate in Ukrainian: Диференціювання

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adapt, adjust, alter, analyze, anatomize, argue, atomize, be characteristic, be indicative of, be significant of, be symptomatic of, bespeak, betoken, break up, calibrate, calibrated, change, characterize, chop logic, comprehend, connote, contradistinguish, contrast, convert, decrease, define, demarcate, demark, denominate, denote, describe, desynonymize, differ, difference, discern, disclose, discriminate, disequalize, disjoin, display, dissent, distinguish, disunify, divaricate, diverge, diversify, divide, draw the line, earmark, entail, express, extricate, give evidence, give token, gradational, grade, gradual, graduate, graduated, hierarchic, highlight, hint, identify, increase, indicate, individualize, individuate, involve, keynote, make a distinction, manifest, mark, mark off, mark out, mark the interface, mean, modify, note, oppose, particularize, personalize, pick out, progressive, refine a distinction, regular, relieve, reveal, scalar, screen, screen out, segregate, select, separate, set a limit, set apart, set off, set the pace, set the tone, sever, severalize, shade off, show, sieve, sieve out, sift, sift out, signify, sort, sort out, sound the keynote, specialize, split hairs, stand for, subdivide, subtilize, suggest, symptomatize, symptomize, tell apart, testify, transform, transmute, understand, variate, variegate, vary, winnow
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