English edit

Etymology edit

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.

Pronunciation edit



Verb edit

discriminate (third-person singular simple present discriminates, present participle discriminating, simple past and past participle discriminated)

  1. (intransitive) To make distinctions.
    Since he was color blind he was unable to discriminate between the blue and green bottles.
  2. To treat or affect differently, depending on differences in traits.
    Low self-esteem can affect both rich and poor people: it doesn't discriminate.
    1. (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.
    • 1670-7, Isaac Barrow, “Sermon XX: Against rash Censuring and Judging”, in The Theological Works, volume 1, published 1818, page 448:
      To discriminate the goats from the sheep.
    • 1782–1785, William Cowper, “(please specify the page)”, in The Task, a Poem, [], London: [] J[oseph] Johnson;  [], →OCLC:
      Still stranger much, that when at length mankind
      Had reach'd the sinewy firmness of their youth,
      And could discriminate and argue well
      On subjects more mysterious

Usage notes edit

  • 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. On the other hand, the adjectives discriminate and indiscriminate are solely used to refer to being distinguished or marked by being different.

Synonyms edit

Antonyms edit

  • (make decisions based on prejudice): favor

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Adjective edit

discriminate (comparative more discriminate, superlative most discriminate)

  1. Having the difference marked; distinguished by certain tokens.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “IX. Century.”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] William Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], →OCLC:
      Nevertheless it is certain, that oisters, and cockles, and mussels, which move not, have no discriminate sex

Translations edit

Further reading edit

Italian edit

Etymology 1 edit

Verb edit


  1. inflection of discriminare:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative

Etymology 2 edit

Participle edit

discriminate f pl

  1. feminine plural of discriminato

Anagrams edit

Latin edit

Verb edit


  1. second-person plural present active imperative of discrīminō

Spanish edit

Verb edit


  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of discriminar combined with te