Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



DISSEVER, v.t. [dis and sever. In this word, dis, as in dispart, can have no effect, unless to augment the signification, as dis and sever both denote separation.] To dispart; to part in two; to divide asunder; to separate; to disunite, either by violence or not. When with force, it is equivalent to rend and burst. It may denote either to cut or to tear asunder. In beheading, the head is dissevered from the body. The lightning may dissever a branch from the stem of a tree. Jealousy dissevers the bonds of friendship. The reformation dissevered the Catholic church; it dissevered Protestants from catholics.

DISSEVERANCE, n. The act of dissevering; separation.

DISSEVERED, pp. Disparted; disjoined; separated.

DISSEVERING, ppr. Dividing asunder; separating; tearing or cutting asunder.

DISSEVERING, n. The act of separating; separation.

DISSIDENCE, n. [infra.] Discord.

DISSIDENT, a. [L., to disagree; to sit.] Not agreeing.

DISSIDENT, n. A dissenter; one who separates from the established religion; a word applied to the members of the Lutheran, Calvinistic and Greek churches in Poland.

DISSILIENCE, n. [L., to leap.] The act of leaping or starting asunder.

DISSILIENT, a. Starting asunder; bursting and opening with an elastic force, as the dry pod or capsule of a plant; as a dissilient pericarp.

DISSILITION, n. The act of bursting open; the act of starting or springing different ways.

DISSIMILAR, a. [dis and similar.] Unlike, either in nature, properties or external form; not similar; not having the resemblance of; heterogeneous. Newton denominates dissimilar, the rays of light of different refrangibility. The tempers of men are as dissimilar as their features.

DISSIMILARITY, n. Unlikeness; want of resemblance; dissimilitude; as the dissimilarity of human faces and forms.

DISSIMILE, n. Dissimily. Comparison or illustration by contraries. [Little used.]

DISSIMILITUDE, n. [L.] Unlikeness; want of resemblance; as a dissimilitude of form or character.

DISSIMULATION, n. [L., to make like; like.] The act of dissembling; a hiding under a false appearance; a feigning; false pretension; hypocrisy. Dissimulation may be simply concealment of the opinions, sentiments or purpose; but it includes also the assuming of a false or counterfeit appearance which conceals the real opinions or purpose. Dissimulation among statesmen is sometimes regarded as a necessary vice, or as no vice at all.

Let love be without dissimulation. Romans 12:9.

DISSIMULE, v.t. To dissemble. [Not in use.]

DISSIPABLE, a. [See Dissipate.] Liable to be dissipated; that may be scattered or dispersed.

The heat of those plants is very dissipable.

DISSIPATE, v.t. [L., to throw.]

1. To scatter; to disperse; to drive asunder. Wind dissipates fog; the heat of the sun dissipates vapor; mirth dissipates care and anxiety; the cares of life tend to dissipate serious reflections. Scatter, disperse and dissipate are in many cases synonymous; but dissipate is used appropriately to denote the dispersion of things that vanish, or are not afterwards collected; as, to dissipate fog, vapor or clouds. We say, an army is scattered or dispersed, but not dissipated. Trees are scattered or dispersed over a field, but not dissipated.

2. To expend; to squander; to scatter property in wasteful extravagance; to waste; to consume; as, a man has dissipated his fortune in the pursuit of pleasure.

3. To scatter the attention.

DISSIPATE, v.i. To scatter; to disperse; to separate into parts and disappear; to waste away; to vanish.

A fog or cloud gradually dissipates, before the rays or heat of the sun. The heat of a body dissipates; the fluids dissipate.


1. Scattered; dispersed; wasted; consumed; squandered.

2. a. Loose; irregular; given to extravagance in the expenditure of property; devoted to pleasure and vice; as a dissipated man; a dissipated life.

DISSIPATING, ppr. Scattering; dispersing; wasting; consuming; squandering; vanishing.


1. The act of scattering; dispersion; the state of being dispersed; as the dissipation of vapor or heat.

2. In physics, the insensible loss or waste of the minute parts of a body, which fly off, by which means the body is diminished or consumed.

3. Scattered attention; or that which diverts and calls off the mind from any subject.

4. A dissolute, irregular course of life; a wandering from object to object in pursuit of pleasure; a course of life usually attended with careless and exorbitant expenditure of money, and indulgence in vices, which impair or ruin both health and fortune.

What! Is it proposed then to reclaim the spendthrift from his dissipation and extravagance, by filling his pockets with money?

DISSOCIABLE, a. [See Dissociate.]

1. Not well associated, united or assorted.

They came in two and two, though matched in the most dissociable manner.

2. Incongruous; not reconcilable with.

Dormant partner, in commerce and manufactories, a partner who takes no share in the active business of a company or partnership, but is entitled to a share of the profits and subject to a share in losses. He is called also sleeping partner.

DISSOCIAL, a. [dis and social.] Unfriendly to society; contracted; selfish; as a dissocial passion.

DISSOCIATE, v.t. [L., to unite, a companion.] To separate; to disunite; to part; as, to dissociate the particles of a concrete substance.

DISSOCIATED, pp. Separated; disunited.

DISSOCIATING, ppr. Separating; disuniting.

DISSOCIATION, n. The act of disuniting; a state of separation; disunion.

It will add to the dissociation, distraction and confusion of these confederate republics.

DISSOLUBILITY, n. Capacity of being dissolved by heat or moisture, and converted into a fluid.

DISSOLUBLE, a. [L. See Dissolve.]

1. Capable of being dissolved; that may be melted; having its parts separable by heat or moisture; convertible into a fluid.

2. That may be disunited.


1. Loose in behavior and morals; given to vice and dissipation; wanton; lewd; luxurious; debauched; not under the restraints of law; as a dissolute man; dissolute company.

2. Vicious; wanton; devoted to pleasure and dissipation; as a dissolute life.

DISSOLUTELY, adv. Loosely; wantonly; in dissipation or debauchery; without restraint; as, to live dissolutely.

DISSOLUTENESS, n. Looseness of manners and morals; vicious indulgences in pleasure, as in intemperance and debauchery; dissipation; as dissoluteness of life or manners.

DISSOLUTION, n. [L.] In a general sense, the separation of the parts of a body which, in the natural structure, are united; or the reduction of concrete bodies into their smallest parts, without regard to solidity or fluidity. Thus we speak of the dissolution of salts in water, of metals in nitro-muriatic acid, and of ice or butter by heat; in which cases, the dissolution is effected by a menstruum or particular agent. We speak so of the dissolution of flesh or animal bodies, when the parts separate by putrefaction. Dissolution then is,

1. The act of liquefying or changing from a solid to a fluid state by heat; a melting; a thawing; as the dissolution of snow and ice, which converts them into water.

2. The reduction of a body into its smallest parts, or into very minute parts, by a dissolvent or menstruum, as of a metal by nitro-muricatic acid, or of slats in water.

3. The separation of the parts of a body by putrefaction, or the analysis of the natural structure of mixed bodies, as of animal or vegetable substances; decomposition.

4. The substance formed by dissolving a body in a menstruum. [This is now called a solution.]

5. Death; the separation of the soul and body.

6. Destruction; the separation of the parts which compose a connected system, or body; as the dissolution of the world, or of nature; the dissolution of government.

7. The breaking up of an assembly, or the putting an end to its existence.

Dissolution is the civil death of parliament.

8. Looseness of manners; dissipation. In this latter sense the word is obsolete, dissoluteness being substituted.

9. Dissolution of the blood, in medicine, that state of the blood, in which it does not readily coagulate, no its cooling out of the body, as in malignant fevers.

DISSOLVABLE, a. Dizzolvable. [See Dissolve.] That may be dissolved; capable of being melted; that may be converted into a fluid. Sugar and ice are dissolvable bodies.

DISSOLVE, v.t. dizzolv. [L., to loose, to free.]

1. To melt; to liquefy; to convert from a solid or fixed state to a fluid state, by means of heat or moisture.

To desolve by heat, is to loosen the parts of a solid body and render them fluid or easily movable. Thus ice is converted into water by dissolution.

To dissolve in a liquid, is to separate the parts of a solid substance, and cause them to mix with the fluid; or to reduce a solid substance into minute parts which may be sustained in that fluid. Thus water dissolves salt and sugar.

2. To disunite; to break; to separate.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness? 2 Peter 3:11.

3. To loose; to disunite.

Down fell the duke, his joints dissolved.

4. To loose the ties or bonds of any thing; to destroy an connected system; as, to dissolve a government; to dissolve a corporation.

5. To loose; to break; as, to dissolve a league; to dissolve the bonds of friendship.

6. To break up; to cause to separate; to put an end to; as, to dissolve the parliament; to dissolve an assembly.

7. To clear; to solve; to remove; to dissipate, or to explain; as, to dissolve doubts. We usually say, to solve doubts and difficulties.

8. To break; to destroy; as, to dissolve a charm, spell or enchantment.

9. To loosen or relax; to make languid; as dissolved in pleasure.

10. To waste away; to consume; to cause to vanish or perish.

Thou dissolvest my substance. Job 30:22.

11. To annul; to rescind; as, to dissolve an injunction.

DISSOLVE, v.i. dizzolv.

1. To be melted; to be converted from a solid to a fluid state; as, sugar dissolves in water.

2. To sink away; to lose strength and firmness.

3. To melt away in pleasure; to become soft or languid.

4. To fall asunder; to crumble; to be broken. A government may dissolve by its own weight or extent.

5. To waste away; to perish; to be decomposed. Flesh dissolves by putrefaction.

6. To come to an end by a separation of parts.

DISSOLVED, pp. Melted; liquefied; disunited; parted; loosed; relaxed; wasted away; ended.

Dissolved blood, is that which does not readily coagulate.

DISSOLVENT, a. Having power to melt or dissolve; as the dissolvent juices of the stomach.


1. Any thing which has the power or quality of melting, or converting a solid substance into a fluid, or of separating the parts of a fixed body so that they mix with a liquid; as, water is a dissolvent of salts and earths. It is otherwise called a menstruum.

2. In medicine, a remedy supposed capable of dissolving concretions in the body, such as calculi, tubercles, etc.

DISSOLVER, n. That which dissolves or has the power of dissolving. Heat is the most powerful dissolver of substances.

DISSOLVING, ppr. Melting; making or becoming liquid.

DISSONANCE, n. [L., to be discordant; to sound.]

1. Discord; a mixture or union of harsh, unharmonious sounds, which are grating or unpleasing to the ear; as the dissonance of notes, sounds or numbers.

2. Disagreement.


1. Discordant; harsh; jarring; unharmonious; unpleasant to the ear; as dissonant notes or intervals.

2. Disagreeing; incongruous; usually with from; as, he advanced propositions very dissonant from truth.

DISSUADE, v.t. [L., to advise or incite to any thing.]

1. To advise or exhort against; to attempt to draw or divert from a measure, by reason or offering motives to; as, the minister dissuaded the prince from adopting the measure; he dissuaded him from his purpose.

2. To represent as unfit, improper or dangerous.

War therefore, open or concealed, alike my voice dissuades.

This phraseology is probably elliptical, and merely poetical; from being understood.

DISSUADED, pp. Advised against; counseled or induced by advice not to do something; diverted from a purpose.

DISSUADER, n. He that dissuades; a dehorter.

DISSUADING, ppr. Exhorting against; attempting, by advice, to divert from a purpose.

DISSUASION, n. Disuazhun. Advice or exhortation in opposition to something; the act of attempting, by reason or motives offered, to divert from a purpose or measure; dehortation.

DISSUASIVE, a. Tending to dissuade, or divert form a measure or purpose; dehortatory.

DISSUASIVE, n. Reason, argument, or counsel, employed to deter one from a measure or purpose; that which is used or which tends to divert the mind from any purpose or pursuit. The consequences of intemperance are powerful dissuasives from indulging in that vice.

DISSUNDER, v.t. [dis and sunder.] To separate; to rend.

DISSWEETEN, v.t. To deprive of sweetness. [Not used.]

DISSYLLABIC, a. Consisting of two syllables only; as a dissyllabic foot in poetry.

DISSYLLABLE, n. [Gr., two or twice; a syllable.] A word consisting of two syllables only; as, paper, whiteness, virtue.


1. The staff of a spinning-wheel, to which a bunch of flax or tow is tied, and from which the thread is drawn.

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. Proverbs 31:19.

2. Figuratively, a woman, or the female sex.

His crown usurped, a distaff on the throne.

DISTAFF-THISTLE, n. A species of thistle; a name of the Atraetylis, and of the Carthamus, or false saffron.

DISTAIN, v.t. [dis and stain. L. See Stain.]

1. To stain; to tinge with any different color from the natural or proper one; to discolor. We speak of a sword distained with blood; a garment distained with gore. It has precisely the signification of stain, but is used chiefly or appropriately in poetry and the higher kinds of prose.

2. To blot; to sully; to defile; to tarnish.

She distained her honorable blood.

The worthiness of praise distains his worth.

DISTAINED, pp. Stained; tinged; discolored; blotted; sullied.

DISTAINING, ppr. Staining; discoloring; blotting; tarnishing.

DISTANCE, n. [L., to stand apart; to stand.]

1. An interval or space between two objects; the length of the shortest line which intervenes between two things that are separate; as a great or small distance. Distance may be aline, an inch, a mile, or any indefinite length; as the distance between the sun and Saturn.

2. Preceded by at, remoteness of place.

He waits at distance till he hears from Cato.

3. Preceded by thy, his, your, her, their, a suitable space, or such remoteness as is common or becoming; as, let him keep his distance; keep your distance. [See No. 8.]

4. A space marked on the course where horses run.

This horse ran the whole field out of distance.

5. Space of time; any indefinite length of time, past or future, intervening between two periods or events; as the distance of an hour, of a year, of an age.

6. Ideal space or separation.

Qualities that affect our senses are, in the things themselves, so united and blended, that there is no distance between them.

7. Contrariety; opposition.

Banquo was your enemy, so he is mine, and in such bloody distance--

8. The remoteness which respect requires; hence, respect.

I hope your modesty will know what distance to the crown is due.

Tis by respect and distance that authority is upheld.

[See No. 3]

9. Reserve; coldness; alienation of heart.

On the part of heaven now alientated, distance and distaste.

10. Remoteness in succession or relation; as the distance between a descendant and his ancestor.

11. In music, the interval between two notes; as the distance of a fourth or seventh.


1. To place remote; to throw off from the view.

2. To leave behind in a race;; to win the race by a great superiority.

3. To leave at a great distance behind.

He distanced the most skillful of his cotemporaries.

DISTANCED, pp. Left far behind; cast out of the race.

DISTANT, a. [L., standing apart.]

1. Separate; having an intervening space of any indefinite extent. One point may be less than a line or a hairs breadth distant from another. Saturn is supposed to be nearly nine hundred million miles distant from the sun.

2. Remote in place; as, a distant object appears under a small angle.

3. Remote in time, past or future; as a distant age or period of the world.

4. Remote in the line of succession or descent, indefinitely; as a distant descendant; a distant ancestor; distant posterity.

5. Remote in natural connection or consanguinity; as a distant relation; distant kindred; a distant collateral line.

6. Remote in nature; not allied; not agreeing with or in conformity to; as practice very distant from principles or profession.

7. Remote in view; slight; faint; not very likely to be realized; as, we have a distant hope or prospect of seeing better times.

8. Remote in connection; slight; faint; indirect; not easily seen or understood; as a distant hint or allusion to a person or subject. So also we say, a distant idea; a distant thought; a distant resemblance.

9. Reserved; shy; implying haughtiness, coldness of affection, indifference, or disrespect; as, the manners of a person are distant.

DISTANTLY, adv. Remotely; at a distance; with reserve.

DISTASTE, n. [dis and taste.]

1. Aversion of the taste; dislike of food or drink; disrelish; disgust, or a slight degree of it. Distaste for a particular kind of food may be constitutional, or the effect of a diseased stomach.

2. Dislike; uneasiness.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and adversity is not without comfort and hopes.

3. Dislike; displeasure; alienation of affection.


1. To disrelish; to dislike; to lothe; as, to distaste drugs or poisons.

2. To offend; to disgust.

He thought it no policy to distaste the English or Irish, but sought to please them.

3. To vex; to displease; to sour.

[The two latter significations are rare.]

DISTASTED, pp. Disrelished; disliked; offended; displeased.


1. Nauseous; unpleasant or disgusting to the taste.

2. Offensive; displeasing; as a distasteful truth.

3. Malevolent; as distasteful looks.

DISTASTEFULNESS, n. Disagreeableness; dislike.

DISTASTING, ppr. Disrelishing; disliking; offending; displeasing.

DISTASTIVE, n. That which gives disrelish or aversion.

DISTEMPER, n. [dis and temper.]

1. Literally, an undue or unnatural temper, or disproportionate mixture of parts. Hence,

2. Disease; malady; indisposition; any morbid state of an animal body, or of any part of it; a state in which the animal economy is deranged or imperfectly carried on. [See Disease.] It is used of the slighter disease, but not exclusively. In general, it is synonymous with disease, and is particularly applied to the diseases of brutes.

3. Want of due temperature, applied to climate; the literal sense of the word, but not now used.

Countries under the tropic of a distemper uninhabitable.

4. Bad constitution of the mind; undue predominance of a passion or appetite.

5. Want of due balance of parts or opposite qualities and principles; as, the temper and distemper of an empire consist of contraries. [Not now used.]

6. Ill humor of mind; depravity of inclination. [Not used.]

7. Political disorder; tumult.

8. Uneasiness; ill humor or bad temper.

There is a sickness, which puts some of us in distemper.

9. In painting, the mixing of colors with something besides oil and water. When colors are mixed with size, whites of eggs, or other unctuous or glutinous matter, and not with oil, it is said to be done in distemper.


1. To disease; to disorder; to derange the functions of the body or mind.

2. To disturb; to ruffle.

3. To deprive of temper or moderation.

4. To make disaffected, ill humored or malignant. This verb is seldom used, except in the participles.

DISTEMPERANCE, n. Distemperature.

DISTEMPERATE, a. Immoderate. [Little used.]


1. Bad temperature; intemperateness; excess of heat or cold, or of other qualities; a noxious state; as the distemperature of the air of climate.

2. Violent tumultuousness; outrageousness.

3. Perturbation of mind.

4. Confusion; commixture of contrarieties; loss of regularity; disorder.

5. Slight illness; indisposition.

DISTEMPERED, pp. or a.

1. Diseased in body, or disordered in mind. We speak of a distempered body, a distempered limb, a distempered head or brain.

2. Disturbed; ruffled; as distempered passions.

3. Deprived of temper or moderation; immoderate; as distempered zeal.

4. Disordered; biased; prejudiced; perverted; as minds distempered by interest or passion.

The imagination, when completely distempered, is the most incurable of all disordered faculties.

5. Disaffected; made malevolent.

Distempered lords.

DISTEMPERING, ppr. Affecting with disease or disorder; disturbing; depriving of moderation.

DISTEND, v.t. [L., to tend, to stretch; to hold. Gr., to stretch.]

1. To stretch or spread in all directions; to dilate; to enlarge; to expand; to swell; as, to distend a bladder; to distend the bowels to distend the lungs. [This is the appropriate sense of the word.]

2. To spread apart; to divaricate; as, to distend the legs. We seldom say, to distend a plate of metal, and never, I believe, to distend a line; extend being used in both cases. We use distend chiefly to denote the stretching, spreading or expansion of any thing, by means of a substance inclosed within it, or by the elastic force of something inclosed. In this case the body distended swells or spreads in all directions, and usually in a spherical form. A bladder is distended by inflation, or by the expansion of rarefied air within it. The skin is distended in boils and abscesses, by matter generated within them. This appropriation of the word has not always been observed.

DISTENDED, pp. Spread; expanded; dilated by an inclosed substance or force.

DISTENDING, ppr. Stretching in all directions; dilating; expanding.

DISTENSIBILITY, n. The quality or capacity of being distensible.

DISTENSIBLE, a. Capable of being distended or dilated.

DISTENT, a. Spread. [Not in use.]

DISTENT, n. Breadth. [Not used.]


1. The act of distending; the act of stretching in breadth or in all directions; the state of being distended; as the distention of the lungs or bowels.

2. Breadth; extent or space occupied by the thing distended.

3. An opening, spreading or divarication; as the distention of the legs.

DISTERMINATE, a. [L.] Separated by bounds.

DISTERMINATION, n. Separation.

DISTHENE, n. [Gr., two; force.] A mineral so called by Hauy, because its crystals have the property of being electrified both positively and negatively. It is the sappare of Saussure, and the cyanite or kyanite of Werner.

DISTHRONIZE, v.t. To dethrone. [Not used.]

DISTICH, n. [L., Gr., a verse.] A couplet; a couple of verses or poetic lines, making complete sense; an epigram of two verses.

DISTICHOUS, DISTICH, a. Having two rows, or disposed in two rows. A distichous spike has all the flowers pointing two ways.

DISTILL, v.i. [L., to drop; a drop. Gr.]

1. To drop; to fall in drops.

Soft showers distilld, and suns grew warm in vain.

2. To flow gently, or in a small stream.

The Euphrates distilleth out of the mountains of Armenia.

3. To use a still; to practice distillation.


1. To let fall in drops; to throw down in drops. The clouds distill water on the earth.

The dew, which on the tender grass the evening had distilled.

2. To extract by heat; to separate spirit or essential oils from liquor by heat or evaporation, and convert that vapor into a liquid by condensation in a refrigeratory; to separate the volatile parts of a substance by heat; to rectify; as, to distill brandy from wine, or spirit form melasses.

3. To extract spirit from, by evaporation and condensation; as, to distill cyder or melasses; to distill wine.

4. To extract the pure part of a fluid; as, to distill water.

5. To dissolve or melt. [Unusual.]

Swords by the lightnings subtle force distilled.

DISTILLABLE, a. That may be distilled; fit for distillation.


1. The act of falling in drops, or the act of pouring or throwing down in drops.

2. The vaporization and subsequent condensation of a liquid by means of an alembic, or still and refrigeratory, or of a retort and receiver; the operation of extracting spirit from a substance by evaporation and condensation; rectification.

3. The substance extracted by distilling.

4. That which falls in drops.

DISTILLATORY, a. Belonging to distillation; used for distilling; as distillatory vessels.

DISTILLED, pp. Let fall or thrown down inn drops; subjected to the process of distillation; extracted by evaporation.

DISTILLER, n. One who distills; one whose occupation is to extract spirit by evaporation and condensation.


1. The act or art of distilling.

2. The building and works where distilling is carried on.

DISTILLING, ppr. Dropping; letting fall in drops; extracting by distillation.

DISTILLMENT, n. That which is drawn by distillation.

DISTINCT, a. [L. See Distinguish.]

1. Literally, having the difference marked; separated by a visible sign, or by a note or mark; as a place distinct by name.

2. Different; separate; not the same in number or kind; as, he holds tow distinct offices; he is known by distinct titles.

3. Separate in place; not conjunct; as, the two regiments marched together, but had distinct encampments.

4. So separated as not to be confounded with any other thing; clear; not confused. To reason correctly we must have distinct ideas. We have a distinct or indistinct view of a prospect.

5. Spotted; variegated.

Tempestuous fell his arrows from the fourfold-visagd four, distinct with eyes.

DISTINCT, v.t. To distinguish. [Not in use.]


1. The act of separating or distinguishing.

2. A note or mark of difference. [Seldom used.]

3. Difference made; a separation or disagreement in kind or qualities, by which one thing is known from another. We observe a distinction between matter and spirit; a distinction between matter and spirit; a distinction between the animal and vegetable kingdoms; a distinction between good and evil, right and wrong; between sound reasoning and sophistry.

4. Difference regarded; separation; preference; as in the phrase, without distinction, which denotes promiscuously, all together, alike.

Maids, women, wives, without distinction fall.

5. Separation; division; as the distinction of tragedy into acts.

[In this sense, division would be preferable.]

6. Notation of difference; discrimination; as a distinction between real and apparent good.

In classing the qualities of actions, it is necessary to make accurate distinctions.

7. Eminence; superiority; elevation of rank in society, or elevation of character; honorable estimation. Men who hold a high rank by birth or office, and men who are eminent for their talents, services or worth, are called men of distinction, as being raised above others by positive institutions or by reputation. So we say, a man of note.

8. That which confers eminence or superiority; office, rank or public favor.

9. Discernment; judgment.


1. That marks distinction or difference; as distinctive names or titles.

2. Having the power to distinguish and discern. [Less proper.]

DISTINCTIVELY, adv. With distinction; plainly.


1. Separately; with distinctness; not confusedly; without the blending of one part or thing with another; as a proposition distinctly understood; a figure distinctly defined. Hence,

2. Clearly; plainly; as, to view an object distinctly.


1. The quality or state of being distinct; a separation or difference that prevents confusion of parts or things; as the distinctness of two ideas, or of distant objects.

2. Nice discrimination; whence, clearness; precision; as, he stated his arguments with great distinctness.

DISTINGUISH, v.t. [L. Gr. The primary sense is, to prick, to pierce with a sharp point, to thrust in or on; and we retain the precise word in the verb, to stick, which see. The practice of making marks by puncturing, or sticking, gave rise to the applications of this word, as such marks were used to note and ascertain different things, to distinguish them. See Distinguish.]

1. To ascertain and indicate difference by some external mark. The farmer distinguishes his sheep by marking their ears. The manufacturer distinguishes pieces of cloth by some mark or impression.

2. To separate one thing from another by some mark or quality; to know or ascertain difference.

First, by sight; as, to distinguish ones own children from others by their features.

Secondly, by feeling. A blind man distinguishes an egg from an orange, but rarely distinguishes colors.

Thirdly, by smell; as, it is easy to distinguish the small of a peach from that of an apple.

Fourthly, by taste; as, to distinguish a plum from a pear.

Fifthly, by hearing; as to distinguish the sound of a drum from that of a violin.

Sixthly, by the understanding; as, to distinguish vice form virtue, truth from falsehood.

3. To separate or divide by any mark or quality which constitutes difference. We distinguish sounds into high and low, soft and harsh, lively and grave. We distinguish causes into direct and indirect, immediate and mediate.

4. To discern critically; to judge.

Not more can you distinguish of a man, than of his outward show.

5. To separate from others by some mark of honor or preference. Homer and Virgil are distinguished as poets; Demosthenes and Cicero, as orators.

6. To make eminent or known.

DISTINGUISH, v.i. To make a distinction; to find or show the difference. It is the province of a judge to distinguish between cases apparently similar, but differing in principle.


1. Capable of being distinguished; that may be separated, known or made known, by notes of diversity, or by any difference. A tree at a distance is distinguishable from a shrub. A simple idea is not distinguishable into different ideas.

2. Worthy of note or special regard.