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Distinguishment vs. Distinction — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on March 9, 2024
Distinguishment refers to the act of recognizing or making distinct, whereas distinction highlights excellence or a notable difference between things.
Distinguishment vs. Distinction — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Distinguishment and Distinction


Key Differences

Distinguishment involves the process of identifying differences between items or concepts, emphasizing the act of differentiation. On the other hand, distinction refers to the quality or state that sets someone or something apart as superior or significantly different, often related to excellence or merit.
While distinguishment focuses on the cognitive process of discerning or distinguishing, distinction often implies a recognized status or honor conferred due to excellence. This recognition can be formal, such as awards, or informal, based on societal perception.
Distinguishment is used in contexts where the emphasis is on the capability or action of differentiating, without necessarily implying a value judgment. Conversely, distinction carries a connotation of value, suggesting that the difference noted is of high quality or notable merit.
In the realm of achievements or attributes, distinguishment might be used to describe the act of setting apart without evaluating the worth. Whereas distinction often implies a level of achievement or a characteristic that elevates someone or something above the ordinary.
Distinguishment can apply to both tangible and intangible aspects, focusing on the differentiation process itself. Distinction, however, is often tied to intangible qualities like honor, reputation, or intellectual prowess, underscoring the outcome of being distinguished.

Comparison Chart


The act of recognizing or making distinct.
A notable difference or excellence.


Emphasizes the process of differentiation.
Often associated with honor or high quality.


Neutral, focusing on differentiation.
Positive, suggesting superiority or merit.


Can be applied to both tangible and intangible.
Often related to intangible qualities.

Primary Emphasis

On the act of distinguishing.
On the result or status of being distinguished.

Compare with Definitions


The ability to discern differences between similar items.
His distinguishment of the two species was based on subtle color variations.


Superiority or merit as a characteristic.
His distinction as a leader comes from his empathy and decisiveness.


The act of making something stand out as different.
The artist's use of light brought distinguishment to the focal point of the painting.


An honor or award recognizing excellence.
He graduated with distinction, reflecting his academic achievements.


Setting apart without necessarily implying superiority.
The new policy led to the distinguishment of various user groups based on access levels.


Notable difference or uniqueness.
The distinction of his writing style earned him many followers.


Identifying specific characteristics that separate items or concepts.
Her research contributed to the distinguishment between the two theories.


A state of excellence that sets someone or something apart.
She received an award for her distinction in science.


The process involved in distinguishing.
The jury's distinguishment between fact and fiction was crucial to the trial.


Quality of being distinguished from others.
The distinction between the two brands is their approach to customer service.


A distinction; observation of difference.


The act of distinguishing; differentiation
Economists making an ongoing distinction between domestic and foreign markets.


Observation of difference; distinction.


The condition or fact of being dissimilar or distinct; difference
"the crucial distinction between education and indoctrination" (A. Bartlett Giamatti).


A distinguishing factor, attribute, or characteristic
A legal system blind to distinctions of race, gender, and class.


Excellence or eminence, as of performance, character, or reputation
A diplomat of distinction.


A special quality or accomplishment conferring uniqueness or honor
Has the distinction of being the tallest in his class.


Recognition of achievement or superiority; honor
Graduated with distinction.


An award or honor given to someone for outstanding achievement
Won many distinctions while in the military.


That which distinguishes; a single occurrence of a determining factor or feature, the fact of being divided; separation, discrimination.


The act of distinguishing, discriminating; discrimination.
There is a distinction to be made between resting and slacking.


Specifically, a feature that causes someone or something to stand out as being better; a mark of honour, rank, eminence or excellence; being distinguished.
She had the distinction of meeting the Queen.


A marking off by visible signs; separation into parts; division.
The distinction of tragedy into acts was not known.


The act of distinguishing or denoting the differences between objects, or the qualities by which one is known from others; exercise of discernment; discrimination.
To take away therefore that error, which confusion breedeth, distinction is requisite.


That which distinguishes one thing from another; distinguishing quality; sharply defined difference; as, the distinction between real and apparent good.
The distinction betwixt the animal kingdom and the inferior parts of matter.


Estimation of difference; regard to differences or distinguishing circumstance.
Maids, women, wives, without distinction, fall.


Conspicuous station; eminence; superiority; honorable estimation; as, a man of distinction.
Your country's own means of distinction and defense.


A discrimination between things as different and distinct;
It is necessary to make a distinction between love and infatuation


High status importance owing to marked superiority;
A scholar of great eminence


A distinguishing quality;
It has the distinction of being the cheapest restaurant in town


A distinguishing difference;
He learned the distinction between gold and lead

Common Curiosities

How do distinguishment and distinction differ in application?

Distinguishment is about the act of differentiation, while distinction involves recognition or honor for excellence.

What makes a work of art distinguished?

A work of art may be distinguished by its unique style, quality, or the recognition it receives for excellence.

Does distinction always relate to positive recognition?

Distinction often carries a positive connotation, related to excellence or merit.

How does society contribute to the notion of distinction?

Society plays a role through recognition, awards, and valuing certain qualities or achievements as superior.

How do you achieve distinguishment in a professional field?

By developing specific skills or knowledge that sets one apart from others in the field.

What does distinguishment mean?

Distinguishment refers to the act or process of recognizing or making something distinct.

What is distinction?

Distinction denotes a notable difference, excellence, or superiority that sets someone or something apart.

Is distinguishment used in academic contexts?

Yes, it can be used to describe the process of distinguishing between theories, concepts, or empirical findings.

Can distinguishment imply a value judgment?

Typically, distinguishment is neutral, focusing on differentiation without implying value.

Is it possible to have distinction without achievement?

Generally, distinction implies some level of achievement or recognized excellence.

What role does distinguishment play in decision making?

It involves discerning differences to make informed decisions.

Can distinction be subjective?

Yes, what is considered distinguished can vary based on cultural, personal, or contextual factors.

How do distinctions impact personal and professional identities?

They can significantly impact identities by highlighting achievements, qualities, or statuses that are recognized and valued.

Can distinction be used to describe physical differences?

While it can, distinction more commonly refers to intangible qualities like excellence or honor.

Does distinguishment require expertise?

Often, it requires expertise or a keen eye to discern subtle differences.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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