verb (used with object), dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
- to form or mark differently from other such things; distinguish.
- to change; alter.
- to perceive the difference in or between.
- to make different by modification, as a biological species.
- Mathematics. to obtain the differential or the derivative of.
verb (used without object), dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed, dif·fer·en·ti·at·ing.
- to become unlike or dissimilar; change in character.
- to make a distinction.
- Biology. (of cells or tissues) to change from relatively generalized to specialized kinds, during development.
- (tr) to serve to distinguish between
- (when intr, often foll by between) to perceive, show, or make a difference (in or between); discriminate
- (intr) to become dissimilar or distinct
- maths to perform a differentiation on (a quantity, expression, etc)
- (intr) (of unspecialized cells, etc) to change during development to more specialized forms
1816, from Medieval Latin differentiatus, past participle of differentiare, from Latin differentia (see difference).
Originally a mathematical term; transitive and non-technical sense of “discriminate between” is from 1876. Earlier, difference had been used as a verb in this sense. Related: Differentiated; differentiating; differentiation.