from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act of distinguishing; differentiation.
  • noun The condition or fact of being dissimilar or distinct; difference: synonym: difference.
  • noun A distinguishing factor, attribute, or characteristic.
  • noun Excellence or eminence, as of performance, character, or reputation.
  • noun A special quality or accomplishment conferring uniqueness or honor.
  • noun Recognition of achievement or superiority; honor.
  • noun An award or honor given to someone for outstanding achievement.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of distinguishing, either by giving a distinctive mark or character to the object or objects distinguished, or by observing the existing marks and differences.
  • noun A note or mark of difference; a distinguishing quality or character; a characteristic difference: followed by between.
  • noun Difference in general; the state or fact of not being the same.
  • noun Distinctness.
  • noun The power of distinguishing differences; discrimination; discernment; judgment.
  • noun The state of being distinguished; eminence; superiority; elevation of character or of rank in society; the manifestation of superiority in conduct, appearance, or otherwise.
  • noun That which confers or marks eminence or superiority; office, rank, or favor.
  • noun The act of distinguishing or treating with honor.
  • noun Synonyms Distinctness, Distinction. Distinctness has kept the narrower literal sense of the state or quality of being distinct; distinction has been extended to more active meanings, as the mark of difference, the quality distinguishing, superiority by difference, outward rank, honors rendered to one as superior, etc.
  • noun Diversity, etc. See difference.
  • noun Rank, note, repute, fame, renown, celebrity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A marking off by visible signs; separation into parts; division.
  • noun The act of distinguishing or denoting the differences between objects, or the qualities by which one is known from others; exercise of discernment; discrimination.
  • noun That which distinguishes one thing from another; distinguishing quality; sharply defined difference.
  • noun Estimation of difference; regard to differences or distinguishing circumstance.
  • noun Conspicuous station; eminence; superiority; honorable estimation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun That which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination.
  • noun The act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination
  • noun specifically, a feature that that causes someone or something to stand out as being better; a mark of honour, rank, eminence or excellence; being distinguished.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a distinguishing quality
  • noun a discrimination between things as different and distinct
  • noun a distinguishing difference
  • noun high status importance owing to marked superiority


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French (12th century) distinction, from Latin accusative distinctionem, action noun of distinguo ("I distinguish"). Used in English from the late 14th century.


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  • One evening, after that meal which the Otchkinsons, observing a finer distinction than the Ramerils, called dinner when they had company, but supper when they were alone... - ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008