• Discriminate


    • UK IPA: /dɪsˈkɹɪmɪneɪt/


    From Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare ("to divide, separate, distinguish"), from discrimen ("a space between, division, separation, distinction"), from discerno ("to divide, separate, distinguish, discern"); see discern, discreet, discrete. Compare crime.

    Full definition of discriminate


    1. (intransitive) To make distinctions.Since he was colorblind he was unable to discriminate between the blue and green bottles.
    2. (intransitive, construed with against) To make decisions based on prejudice.The law prohibits discriminating against people based on their skin color.
    3. (transitive) To set apart as being different; to mark as different; to separate from another by discerning differences; to distinguish.
      • BarrowTo discriminate the goats from the sheep.

    Usage notes

    Due to the strong pejorative connotations of sense of “decide based on prejudice”, care should be taken in using the term in the sense “distinguish, make distinctions”, and this sense is primarily used in formal discourse; synonyms are generally used instead.


    (make distinctions)

    Derived terms

    Terms derived from discriminate

    Related terms

    Terms etymologically related to discriminate



    1. Having the difference marked; distinguished by certain tokens.
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