from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of distinguishing; differentiation.
  • n. The condition or fact of being dissimilar or distinct; difference: "the crucial distinction between education and indoctrination” ( A. Bartlett Giamatti). See Synonyms at difference.
  • n. A distinguishing factor, attribute, or characteristic.
  • n. Excellence or eminence, as of performance, character, or reputation: a diplomat of distinction.
  • n. A special feature or quality conferring superiority.
  • n. Recognition of achievement or superiority; honor: graduated with distinction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination.
  • n. The act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination
  • n. 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. A note or mark of difference; a distinguishing quality or character; a characteristic difference: followed by between.
  • n. Difference in general; the state or fact of not being the same.
  • n. Distinctness.
  • n. The power of distinguishing differences; discrimination; discernment; judgment.
  • n. The state of being distinguished; eminence; superiority; elevation of character or of rank in society; the manifestation of superiority in conduct, appearance, or otherwise.
  • n. That which confers or marks eminence or superiority; office, rank, or favor.
  • n. The act of distinguishing or treating with honor.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Diversity, etc. See difference.
  • n. Rank, note, repute, fame, renown, celebrity.

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

  • n. a distinguishing quality
  • n. a discrimination between things as different and distinct
  • n. a distinguishing difference
  • n. 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.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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