a. The act of distinguishing; differentiation: economists making an ongoing distinction between domestic and foreign markets.
b. The condition or fact of being dissimilar or distinct; difference: "the crucial distinction between education and indoctrination" (A. Bartlett Giamatti). See Synonyms at difference.
2. A distinguishing factor, attribute, or characteristic: a legal system blind to distinctions of race, gender, and class.
a. Excellence or eminence, as of performance, character, or reputation: a diplomat of distinction.
b. A special quality or accomplishment conferring uniqueness or honor: has the distinction of being the tallest in his class.
c. Recognition of achievement or superiority; honor: graduated with distinction.
d. An award or honor given to someone for outstanding achievement: won many distinctions while in the military.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.