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.
- (intransitive) To make distinctions.
- Since he was colorblind he was unable to discriminate between the blue and green bottles.
- (intransitive, construed with against) To make decisions based on prejudice.
- The law prohibits discriminating against people based on their skin color.
- (transitive) To set apart as being different; to mark as different; to separate from another by discerning differences; to distinguish.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Cowper to this entry?)
- To discriminate the goats from the sheep.
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): distinguish, differentiate; see also Thesaurus:tell apart
- (make decisions based on prejudice): disfavor
- (make decisions based on prejudice): favor
- Having the difference marked; distinguished by certain tokens.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)
- discriminate in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- discriminate in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.