Definition of distinction in English:

distinction

noun

  • 1A difference or contrast between similar things or people.

    ‘there is a sharp distinction between domestic politics and international politics’
    ‘I was completely unaware of class distinctions’
    • ‘The United States recently earned the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.’
    • ‘The most noticeable distinction (apart from various details of the skeleton) are the more forward position of the eyes.’
    • ‘The dominant colonial obsession with race and racial distinctions of all kinds sometimes fed into the ideas of the dominated.’
    • ‘Many of the proposed fine distinctions seem relatively unimportant in routine neurological practice.’
    • ‘In this debate, crucial distinctions are too often blurred.’
    • ‘Also, a fairly sharp distinction is drawn between theory and research.’
    • ‘He found that even tiny status distinctions matter.’
    • ‘The poetic voice progressively splinters into cacophony, in which the gender distinctions progressively collapse.’
    • ‘I'm here to remind you that these are arbitrary distinctions.’
    • ‘And the same people are led to believe Muslims have no caste distinction.’
    • ‘There is a subtle academic distinction between decisions under Risk and decisions under Uncertainty.’
    • ‘But a critical distinction needs to be drawn between physical and mental fatigue.’
    • ‘They seek to construct parochial and arbitrary distinctions between the civic and the human community.’
    • ‘Additional educational efforts to increase participants' abilities to recognize subtle distinctions between these 2 tumors may be of benefit.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, those concepts elide some important distinctions.’
    • ‘Maintaining a clear distinction between conjecture and certainty is especially important in such a conceptually difficult subject.’
    • ‘She also points out that a critical moral distinction in play here is between intended and unintended killing.’
    • ‘There is an important conceptual distinction between the evolutionary response to natural selection and phenotypic selection.’
    • ‘In most parts of the North India, however, no such sharp distinction exists.’
    • ‘Here I will generally use the term trademark and ignore the subtle distinctions of service marks and trade names.’
    difference, contrast, dissimilarity, dissimilitude, divergence, variance, variation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1mass noun The separation of people or things into different groups according to their characteristics.
      ‘high interest rates strike down, without distinction, small businesses and the unemployed’
      • ‘Distance and distinction mark ethnic relations within the country.’
      • ‘Why draw arbitrary lines of distinction and value in different spheres of work?’
      • ‘These characteristics demonstrate considerable variation, and distinction among the three varieties in the field is difficult.’
      • ‘Give the beer a rest for one night and enjoy a beverage with character and distinction.’
      • ‘Another sign of distinction is the ability to see familiar things differently.’
      • ‘As the man assembles without distinction samples from different areas, each track feeds on combined atmospheres.’
      • ‘For these critics, public indifference was a mark of distinction, a sign of the artist's refusal to pander to the degraded tastes of the crowd.’
      • ‘However, what the majority of developments lacked was a sense of character and distinction.’
      • ‘So long as we agree about the marking, it is of no great consequence where we draw the line between pass and failure, or between the different levels of distinction.’
      • ‘Though she was clearly talented, Locke lacked distinction.’
  • 2mass noun Excellence that sets someone or something apart from others.

    ‘a novelist of distinction’
    • ‘They lend European cinema artistic distinction but not industrial security.’
    • ‘The parents of our country need to give more of character and distinction to the lives of their children.’
    • ‘Many historians have entered politics, several attaining positions of distinction.’
    • ‘They act as a showcase for the farming sector and they have fulfilled that role with flair and distinction for many years.’
    • ‘Of course I would, because I think he's very capable and could serve with great distinction in a number of different positions.’
    • ‘He carried out a Funeral Directing Business, with panache and distinction.’
    • ‘In 1877 artistic ambition led Munger to England to search for new styles and international artistic distinction.’
    • ‘He has served the All India Radio for several years with distinction.’
    • ‘A poet's distinction lies in their ability to get to a deep level of insight very quickly.’
    • ‘They seemed to fade into the background, as you would expect from a servant, and didn't seem to crave power or distinction.’
    • ‘Ironically the multifarious Man Ray yearned for greatness as a painter - posterity has not accorded him this distinction.’
    • ‘Dharma Kumar was born in March 1928 into a family of unusual distinction and character.’
    • ‘He had as his teacher a scholar of more than usual ability and distinction.’
    • ‘The Supreme Court, in other words, has seldom been a showcase of intellectual distinction.’
    • ‘The Moscow-trained and London-based violinist Grigory Zhislin is an artist of distinction and imagination.’
    • ‘She was a woman of great distinction who left behind a large body of excellent work.’
    • ‘Today Châteauneuf remains in good standing, crafting some excellent wines of real distinction and merit.’
    • ‘Several played with distinction at the recent Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, where Taibu was I believe player of the tournament.’
    • ‘But that doesn't deduct from the artistry and distinction that beams from the rest of the film.’
    • ‘The recent Golden Globe winner again shows her gift for giving distinction to characters who seem born to be pitied or dismissed.’
    importance, significance, note, consequence, account
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    1. 2.1count noun A decoration or honour awarded to someone.
      ‘he gained the highest distinction awarded for excellence in photography’
      • ‘She was awarded two distinctions, one for Pianoforte Playing and one for getting 100% in Theory and Harmony.’
      • ‘He'd been given a retrospective at the Louvre, the first living artist to be awarded such a distinction.’
      • ‘After obtaining her honours and master's degrees with distinction, she went to study at the University of Pretoria where she completed a PhD.’
      • ‘As a junior fellow at the RNCM, he won the first ever distinction awarded for conducting in May 1999.’
      • ‘Should we now admit who we are and have our merits and distinctions and even honours awards taken away?’
      • ‘He was awarded with three distinctions for his City and Guilds Photography on selected themes and we wish him all the best for the future.’
      • ‘He was awarded a diploma with distinction at the end of the gruelling course.’
      • ‘He was awarded the final school certificate with a distinction in 1849.’
      • ‘After working hard he was awarded a distinction in surgery and was duly offered the job.’
      • ‘At the same time, however, you've got to award them a high distinction for Politics 101 - Know Your Constituency.’
      • ‘She earned the Chair's Scholar distinction, an award offered to one student in the entire physics and astronomy graduating class.’
      • ‘His bright intellect shone through and he completed his Leaving Certificate with distinction.’
      • ‘Her performance at university was outstanding and she was awarded a distinction and received the Sir William Young Gold Medal.’
      • ‘In 1989, he graduated with honours and distinctions from the Jamaica College of Arts.’
      • ‘He was awarded the distinction last year but wanted to wait until there was a presentation ceremony at Rideau Hall.’
      • ‘Anne gained many prizes and distinctions at school and university.’
      • ‘This was the first year the school had the Leaving Cert Applied option and many pupils were awarded merits and distinctions.’
      • ‘She recently was awarded a master of music with distinction from the Royal Scottish Academy.’
      • ‘She also holds a master's degree, with distinction, in operations research from the Naval Postgraduate School.’
      • ‘His direction of the film shot him to new prominence, and the dual distinction of awards at Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival.’
      honour, credit, excellence, merit
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2count noun A grade in an examination denoting excellence.
      ‘she gained a distinction in her diploma’
      Compare with merit
      • ‘Her music went from strength to strength and she achieved Grade 8 distinctions in both singing and piano.’
      • ‘Out of the 30 candidates up for grading 26 achieved a distinction pass which is over 85 per cent.’
      • ‘At the time, he became the only student in Britain to gain three distinctions in the first year of his professional exams.’
      • ‘A few years later, Dr Mayosi was the top matriculant in the Transkei, gaining distinctions in 4 subjects.’
      • ‘Ms Samreen, a student of Hakim Ajmal Khan Girl's Senior Secondary School, passed her secondary examination with distinction.’
      • ‘The government is also dropping plans for distinction grades at A-level.’
      • ‘University admissions requirements will vary from institution to institution, but are likely to expect either a merit or a distinction grade.’
      • ‘He said that Jim had been awarded a distinction for Grade 5 Drum Kit (Rock-school) gaining 89 per cent.’
      • ‘She received a distinction and merit in the exams and was presented with a certificate by college principal Dr Tom Johnson.’
      • ‘Hardy showed precocity with arithmetic and passed examinations with distinction in mathematics and Latin at Cranleigh School.’
      • ‘A talented flautist has been awarded a distinction in a Grade 8 music exam, aged just 11.’
      • ‘She graduated with a National Certificate in Business Studies, having achieved first place in her class and a distinction in her final examinations.’
      • ‘Our other two applicants for higher grade distinctions were not so lucky on this attempt, but better luck next time lads.’
      • ‘Roweena and Hannah both achieved distinction grades.’
      • ‘In addition to her A-levels, Becky also took an extension examination in Latin, which was awarded a distinction.’

Phrases

  • distinction without a difference

    • An artificially created distinction where no real difference exists.

      • ‘The distinction between voluntary and compulsory is a distinction without a difference.’
      • ‘His not having ‘named’ them is a distinction without a difference, apparently the only kind he knows how to make.’
      • ‘The first point strikes me as a distinction without a difference.’
      • ‘So whether he uses his weapons against us or someone else does is a distinction without a difference.’
      • ‘The practical upshot is much the same, of course, so you could argue that it's a distinction without a difference.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘subdivision, category’): via Old French from Latin distinctio(n-), from the verb distinguere (see distinguish).

Pronunciation

distinction

/dɪˈstɪŋ(k)ʃ(ə)n/