From Middle English distinccioun, from Old French distinction (attested from the 12th century), borrowed from Latin distinctiōnem, action noun of distinguō (“separate, distinguish”). Attested in English from the late 14th century.
distinction (countable and uncountable, plural distinctions)
- That which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination.
- The act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination.
- There is a distinction to be made between resting and slacking.
- 1921, Bertrand Russell, “Lecture II”, in The Analysis of Mind:
- In spite of these qualifications, the broad distinction between instinct and habit is undeniable. To take extreme cases, every animal at birth can take food by instinct, before it has had opportunity to learn; on the other hand, no one can ride a bicycle by instinct, though, after learning, the necessary movements become just as automatic as if they were instinctive.
- 1911, “Evidence”, in Encyclopædia Britannica:
- But, for practical purposes, it is possible to draw a distinction between a statement of facts observed and an expression of opinion as to the inference to be drawn from these facts, and the rule telling witnesses to state facts and not express opinions is of great value in keeping their statements out of the region of argument and conjecture.
- 2020, Joel Swanson, “Are anti-Semitism fears stopping Jewish Dems from supporting Bernie Sanders?”, in The Forward:
- This reflects a longtime distinction between "good Jews" and "international Jews," drawn in a 1920 article by Winston Churchill, which put in the "good category" "national Jews" assimilated into British culture and Zionist Jews in Palestine, and into the malevolent one those who fueled "this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization."
- Specifically, a feature that causes someone or something to stand out as being better; a mark of honour, rank, eminence or excellence; being distinguished.
- She had the distinction of meeting the Queen.
- 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 2, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
- Mother […] considered that the exclusiveness of Peter's circle was due not to its distinction, but to the fact that it was an inner Babylon of prodigality and whoredom, from which every Kensingtonian held aloof, except on the conventional tip-and-run excursions in pursuit of shopping, tea and theatres.
- 2013 October 15, Daniel Taylor, The Guardian:
- Leighton Baines, playing with distinction again, sent over a left-wing cross with pace and accuracy. Welbeck, prominently involved all night, could not reach it but Rooney was directly behind him, flashing his header past Szczesny.
- (that which distinguishes): confusion
that which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination
the act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination
specifically, a feature that causes someone or something to stand out as being better; a mark of honour, rank, eminence or excellence; being distinguished
Inherited from Old French distinction (attested from the 12th century), borrowed from Latin distinctiōnem.
distinction f (plural distinctions)
- distinction (difference, honour)
- “distinction”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.