Definition of discriminate in English:



  • 1Recognize a distinction; differentiate.

    ‘babies can discriminate between different facial expressions’
    • ‘It doesn't discriminate between life and death.’
    • ‘‘It is very difficult to read it and be able to discriminate between the satirical and what actually happened,’ she said.’
    • ‘He added that although the school did not discriminate between boys and girls with long hair, ‘extreme fashion was contrary to school rules.’’
    • ‘The experiments were designed to test the ability of the female member of a breeding pair to discriminate between her original mate and a male she had not encountered previously.’
    • ‘‘The community centre is there for both villages and we have no plans to discriminate between residents,’ he said.’
    • ‘This ensures that even if tax rates differ across countries, the tax does not discriminate between foreign and domestic producers.’
    • ‘So, why don't theaters price discriminate between weekend nights and week nights, the way they do between matinees and other shows?’
    • ‘The results indicate that, on average, listeners are able to discriminate between the two.’
    • ‘Thus, we can use measures of skewness for distributions of expression differences for classified genes to discriminate between models.’
    • ‘The results tell us for the first time that we should not discriminate between older and middle-aged people when we select patients for therapy to prevent heart attack.’
    • ‘They do not differentiate or discriminate between domestic, social and public violence, viewing all of them as equally violative of human rights.’
    • ‘Failure to discriminate between truth and lies leads to the sort of moral equivalency that your post indicates.’
    • ‘Children only discriminate between interesting and boring books.’
    • ‘There are only subtle differences between the ratings under each performance dimension, which makes it difficult to discriminate between a good soldier and a very good soldier.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, this research focused on social differences and did not discriminate between denominations.’
    • ‘The legislative apparatus of the early liquor industry did not discriminate between the rights of males and females, a significant anomaly in a period when women were denied the vote.’
    • ‘While they don't think that individual people's satisfaction levels can be measured and compared they do not discriminate between preferences.’
    • ‘While we do not inhabit a moral universe where the alternatives are black and white, we do have the capacity to discriminate between what is truly wrong and what is unfortunate but necessary.’
    • ‘‘It is important to discriminate between what needs to be read and what can be left,’ he explained.’
    • ‘We're here because, every year, thousands of people are killed and injured by weapons that don't discriminate between soldier or civilian, between man, woman and child.’
    • ‘Retaining the ability to discriminate between good acts and bad acts will become ever harder over the next few months, as new conflicts and paradoxes challenge our preconceptions.’
    differentiate, distinguish, draw a distinction, recognize a distinction, tell the difference, discern a difference
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    1. 1.1with object Perceive or constitute the difference in or between.
      ‘features that discriminate this species from other gastropods’
      • ‘They find that birds are better able to discriminate differences in nectar concentrations at relatively low concentrations than at high concentrations.’
      • ‘The second canonical axis discriminates among all three dialects using a combination of the features of the W element.’
      • ‘A concept may be defined as a class of stimuli such that an organism generalizes among all stimuli within the class but discriminates them from those in other classes.’
  • 2Make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age.

    ‘existing employment policies discriminate against women’
    • ‘Employers need to ensure they don't discriminate against disabled employees or job applicants on grounds of disability and to consider making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.’
    • ‘In many states it's against the law to discriminate against someone due to race, creed or sexual orientation.’
    • ‘More than that, I did not discriminate against my men on the basis of race or colour of skin or texture of hair.’
    • ‘He claimed that the school district stepped over the line with its affirmative action plan and that race was improperly used to discriminate against the white teacher.’
    • ‘But that is a far cry from establishing the very serious allegation that they have discriminated on grounds of race and sex.’
    • ‘I have tried never to discriminate against people in terms of wealth, status, race, religion or background.’
    • ‘It follows that it is not necessary to show an intention to discriminate on grounds of race or sex, if that is the effect of a decision.’
    • ‘We do not discriminate against anybody on any grounds, nor should we.’
    • ‘The Adoption Board said no health board could impose this age cut-off point because it was contrary to the Equal Status Act to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of age.’
    • ‘From that date it has been, for the first time, unlawful for employers to discriminate against, harass or victimise their workforce on the grounds of sexual orientation.’
    • ‘We must not be prejudiced and discriminate against one another.’
    • ‘The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins.’
    • ‘Presumably, there are also straight people in those counties who would prefer to live in a society that did not discriminate against people on grounds of their sexuality.’
    • ‘To discriminate against someone because of their faith is no better than discriminating against someone because of their gender, race or sexuality.’
    • ‘You can't discriminate against beneficiaries at all-not on race, color, national origin, disability, or religion.’
    • ‘We should vote in favour of the forces which are democratic and secular and do not discriminate against people on religious grounds after coming to power.’
    • ‘The Constitution also states that: The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, place and birth or any form.’
    • ‘New legislation which will make it illegal for businesses to discriminate against workers on grounds of age is due to come into force next year.’
    • ‘Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, belief, or sexual orientation?’
    • ‘Those who discriminate against others on the grounds of their sexuality cannot be effective team members nor can they provide a professional service to all their patients.’
    be biased, show prejudice, be prejudiced
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Early 17th century: from Latin discriminat- ‘distinguished between’, from the verb discriminare, from discrimen ‘distinction’, from the verb discernere (see discern).