From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From New Latin differentiātus, past participle of differentiō, from Latin differentia (difference); see difference.



differentiate (third-person singular simple present differentiates, present participle differentiating, simple past and past participle differentiated)

  1. (transitive)
    1. To make different; to change, modify.
    2. To recognize a distinction or difference between two things.
      Antonym: conflate
      • 1871, John Earle, The Philology of the English Tongue:
        The word "then" was differentiated into the two forms "then" and "than".
      • 1933 January 9, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter XXII, in Down and Out in Paris and London, London: Victor Gollancz [], →OCLC:
        The mass of the rich and poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.
    3. (mathematics) To calculate the derivative of a function.
    4. (mathematics) To calculate the differential of a function of multiple variables.
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To perceive the difference between things; to discriminate.
      • 1908, Edward Harper Parker, Ancient China Simplified[1], London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd., →OCLC, page ix:
        In the earlier chapters uncouth proper names are reduced to a minimum, but the Index refers by name to specific places and persons only generally mentioned in the earlier pages. For instance, the states of Lu and Chêng on pages 22 and 29 : it is hard enough to differentiate Ts‘i, Tsin, Ts‘in, and Ts‘u at the outstart, without crowding the memory with fresh names until the necessity for it absolutely arises.
      • 1964, New York Times v. Sullivan:
        he refused to instruct that actual intent to harm or recklessness had to be found before punitive damages could be awarded, or that a verdict for respondent should differentiate between compensatory and punitive damages.
    2. (education) To teach a lesson in multiple different ways in order to meet the needs of more or less advanced students.
      • 2012 May 16, Michael Alison Chandler, “Teaching for all levels — in one class”, in The Washington Post[2], archived from the original on 2023-02-11:
        Like most teaching, differentiating is a mix of art and science. When it works, "it's like a jazz rhythm," said Carol Tomlinson, an education professor at the University of Virginia and an expert on differentiation.
      • 2017 August, Tessa H.S. Eysink, Manon Hulsbeek, Hannie Gijlers, “Supporting primary school teachers in differentiating in the regular classroom”, in Teaching and Teacher Education, volume 66, Amsterdam: Elsevier, →DOI, →ISSN, page 107116:
        Moreover, children of STIP-teachers who showed many types of differentiation activities learnt more than children of STIP-teachers who differentiated less.
      • 2018 June 22, Larry Ferlazzo, quoting Sarah Shartzer, “Response: Ways to Use Tech to Differentiate Instruction”, in Education Week[3], archived from the original on 2022-05-19:
        I use technology to differentiate in my Algebra classroom in many different ways. Sometimes, I put this technology in the hands of students and sometimes I use it myself to streamline a process.
  3. (transitive, intransitive, often in the passive voice, biology) To (cause to) go through a process of development called differentiation; to make or become different in form or function.
    Synonym: specialize
    • 1930, Robert Evans Snodgrass, Insects: Their Ways and Means of Living:
      In Chapter IV we learned that every animal consists of a body, or soma, formed of cells that are differentiated from the germ cells usually at an early stage of development.
    • 2013, Lauralee Sherwood, “The Peripheral Endocrine Glands”, in Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, 8th edition, Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, →ISBN, page 723:
      Osteoblasts are derived from stromal cells, a type of connective tissue cell in the bone marrow, whereas osteoclasts differentiate from macrophages, which are tissue-bound derivatives of monocytes, a type of white blood cell (see p. 402).



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]


differentiate (plural differentiates)

  1. (geology) Something that has been differentiated or stratified.
    • 1969, Alexander R. McBirney, Geology and Petrology of the Galápagos Islands, page 185:
      There is no discernable tendency, however, for the differentiates to fall into two extremities, as would be expected if they were trending toward distinct eutectics in a residua system.
    • 1991, Roger H. Mitchell, Petrology of Lamproites, page 10:
      This latter terminology is particularly favored by Soviet petrologists, e.g.. Bogatikov et al. (1985), who believe that any magma typically exhibits both agpaitic and miascitic differentiates.