Definition of discriminate in English:



  • 1Recognize a distinction; differentiate.

    ‘babies can discriminate between different facial expressions’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While they don't think that individual people's satisfaction levels can be measured and compared they do not discriminate between preferences.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, why don't theaters price discriminate between weekend nights and week nights, the way they do between matinees and other shows?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Failure to discriminate between truth and lies leads to the sort of moral equivalency that your post indicates.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘The community centre is there for both villages and we have no plans to discriminate between residents,’ he said.’
    • ‘‘It is important to discriminate between what needs to be read and what can be left,’ he explained.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Children only discriminate between interesting and boring books.’
    • ‘They do not differentiate or discriminate between domestic, social and public violence, viewing all of them as equally violative of human rights.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It doesn't discriminate between life and death.’
    • ‘This ensures that even if tax rates differ across countries, the tax does not discriminate between foreign and domestic producers.’
    • ‘‘It is very difficult to read it and be able to discriminate between the satirical and what actually happened,’ she said.’
    differentiate, distinguish, draw a distinction, recognize a distinction, tell the difference, discern a difference
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    1. 1.1[with object]Perceive or constitute the difference in or between.
      ‘features that discriminate this species from other gastropods’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They find that birds are better able to discriminate differences in nectar concentrations at relatively low concentrations than at high concentrations.’
  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have tried never to discriminate against people in terms of wealth, status, race, religion or background.’
    • ‘We must not be prejudiced and discriminate against one another.’
    • ‘But that is a far cry from establishing the very serious allegation that they have discriminated on grounds of race and sex.’
    • ‘The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘More than that, I did not discriminate against my men on the basis of race or colour of skin or texture of hair.’
    • ‘You can't discriminate against beneficiaries at all-not on race, color, national origin, disability, or religion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To discriminate against someone because of their faith is no better than discriminating against someone because of their gender, race or sexuality.’
    • ‘Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, belief, or sexual orientation?’
    • ‘In many states it's against the law to discriminate against someone due to race, creed or sexual orientation.’
    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).