You might identify a Ming dynasty vase, a suspect in a bank robbery, or an ivory-billed woodpecker. Whatever it is, when you recognize the identity of someone or something, you identify it.

The word identify is easy to...well...identify when you notice how much it looks like the word identity (a noun, meaning who or what something is). Only one consonant separates the two words in spelling ("f" vs. "t"), and they are close relatives in meaning as well. You can easily remember the meaning of identify, a verb, when you recognize that it’s just a way to express the act of establishing identity — in other words, saying who or what something is.

Definitions of identify
  1. verb
    recognize as being; establish the identity of someone or something
    “She identified the man on the 'wanted' poster”
    synonyms: place
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    differentiate, distinguish, secern, secernate, separate, severalise, severalize, tell, tell apart
    mark as different
    be able to distinguish, recognize as being different
    discern, discriminate, know apart
    recognize or perceive the difference
    distinguish (an element or atom) by using a radioactive isotope or an isotope of unusual mass for tracing through chemical reactions
    distinguish (as a compound or molecule) by introducing a labeled atom
    tell the sex (of young chickens)
    individualise, individualize
    make or mark or treat as individual
    put in opposition to show or emphasize differences
    severalise, severalize
    distinguish or separate
    distinguish by contrasting qualities
    decouple, dissociate
    regard as unconnected
    separate clearly, as if by boundaries
    discriminate, separate, single out
    treat differently on the basis of sex or race
    divide society into social classes or castes
    type of:
    determine, set
    fix conclusively or authoritatively
  2. verb
    give the name or identifying characteristics of; refer to by name or some other identifying characteristic property
    “The almanac identifies the auspicious months”
    synonyms: name
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    enumerate, itemise, itemize, recite
    specify individually
    list, number
    give the names of
    list, name
    give or make a list of; name individually; give the names of
    itemise, itemize
    place on a list of items
    type of:
    denote, refer
    have as a meaning
  3. verb
    identify as in botany or biology, for example
  4. verb
    conceive of as united or associated
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    associate, colligate, connect, link, link up, relate, tie in
    make a logical or causal connection
  5. verb
    consider to be equal or the same
    “He identified his brother as one of the fugitives”
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    misidentify, mistake
    identify incorrectly
    type, typecast
    identify as belonging to a certain type
    distinguish flavors
    conflate, confound, confuse
    mistake one thing for another
    type of:
    recognise, recognize
    perceive to be the same
  6. verb
    consider (oneself) as similar to somebody else
    “He identified with the refugees”
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    type of:
    consider, reckon, regard, see, view
    deem to be
Word Family

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