From French identifier, from Medieval Latin identicus + Latin faciō.


  • IPA(key): /aɪˈdɛnt.ɪf.aɪ/, /ɪˈdɛnt.ɪf.aɪ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: i‧dent‧if‧y


identify (third-person singular simple present identifies, present participle identifying, simple past and past participle identified)

  1. (transitive) To establish the identity of.
    It was hard to identify the shoplifter because the CCTV records didn't have a clear image.
  2. (transitive) To disclose the identity of someone.
    The Associated Press will not identify the suspect of the crime because he is a juvenile.
  3. (transitive, biology) To establish the taxonomic classification of an organism.
    • 2000, Bill Clinton, Proclamation 7319:
      A recent biological inventory uncovered 41 species and 2 subspecies of insects new to science and many species not before identified in the State of Washington.
  4. (transitive) To equate or make the same; to unite or combine into one.
    • 1809, David Ramsay, History of South Carolina
      Every precaution is taken to identify the interests of the people and of the rulers.
    • 18 February, 1780, Edmund Burke, Speech on Economical Reform
      Let us identify, let us incorporate ourselves with the people.
  5. (reflexive) To have a strong affinity with; to feel oneself to be modelled on or connected to.
    • 1999, Joyce Crick, translating Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Oxford 2008, p. 117:
      The dream is given a new interpretation if in her dream she means not herself but her friend, if she has put herself in the place of her friend, or, as we may say, she has identified [transl. identifiziert] herself with her. (Der Traum erhält eine neue Deutung, wenn sie im Traum nicht sich, sondern die Freundin meint, wenn sie sich an die Stelle der Freundin gesetzt oder, wie wir sagen können, sich mit ihr identifiziert hat.)
    • 2012, Christoper Zara, Tortured Artists: From Picasso and Monroe to Warhol and Winehouse, the Twisted Secrets of the World's Most Creative Minds, part 1, chapter 1, 29
      Cash endures because his most well-known songs—“I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire” among them—weave deeply personal narratives with which listeners of all stripes can effortlessly identify.
  6. (intransitive) To associate oneself with some group.
    • 1983, S:Presidential Radio Address - 26 February 1983:
      Now, the vast majority of us identify with the second group, the one that believes in trusting the wisdom of the people rather than taking power away from them and concentrating it in the other hands.
  7. (intransitive) To claim an identity; to describe oneself as a member of a group; to assert the use of a particular term to describe oneself.
    • 2010 February 6, “Youth Who Self-Identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual at Higher Suicide Risk, Say Researchers”, in Science Daily[1]:
      "The main message is that it's the interface between individuals and society that causes students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual the most distress," said study first author Yue Zhao.


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