1. discriminate
  2. distinguish
  3. differentiate
  4. discern

I have looked up in different dictionaries, but couldn't get what is the exact difference between these.

Would anyone possibly, if you really know and aware of the difference between those, elaborate such differences?

I would appreciate it very much, if you could elaborate your invaluable explanations along with some example.

2 Answers 2


I agree with ಠ-ಠ.

"Distinctly different" is a common redundant phrase. If two things are distinct, they should be different enough that it is obvious. "Distinctly different" implies that it does not take much "discernment" to "distinguish" between the two things.

There is also the phrase "a distinction without a difference". This means that that it is possible to distinguish two things, but that the difference between them does not matter in any way that is important (to the author).

In addition to the relevant definition ಠ-ಠ provides, "differentiate" has a mathematical meaning. In mathematics, "differentiate" means "calculate the derivative". This term is derived from the use of "differences" in calculating the slope of an infinitesimally short portion of a curve.

  1. discriminate and differentiate are very similar: figuring out what it is that makes something different. In everyday speech, discriminate tends to carry some negative connotations (discrimination by race, gender, etc.)

  2. distinguish: seeing that there is a difference, but not knowing exactly what that difference is

  3. discern: usually specifically refers to visually seeing a difference

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