Meaning of identity in English:


Pronunciation /ʌɪˈdɛntɪti/

See synonyms for identity

Translate identity into Spanish

nounplural noun identities

  • 1The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

    ‘he knows the identity of the bombers’
    • ‘she believes she is the victim of mistaken identity’
    • ‘In fact, her identity as a citizen in urban India is one that is minimally developed, if at all.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter that the joke is about mistaken identity or the fact that they're chasing the wrong vehicle - Atkinson can make you laugh at it anyway.’
    • ‘Being one of the king's personal guests had given them a special status despite the fact that their identities had yet to be given.’
    • ‘All facts, including the identity of the killer, are assessed on the basis of a single criterion: the extent to which they serve their own cause.’
    • ‘There is also corroborating evidence from Interpol the documents provided by the couple to verify their Kola identity are in fact false.’
    • ‘‘The very item of disguise meant to hide his identity has in fact given it away,’ he added.’
    • ‘I thought this would make people careful about concealing their true identities; in fact it led to more mayhem than I would have believed possible.’
    • ‘The homeless people, the mistaken identity, quite a few defenses at work here, and seeing what may or may not stick with this jury.’
    • ‘He initially gave a false name, but then revealed his true identity and the fact that he was banned from driving and had no insurance.’
    • ‘It's a tangled skein of mistaken identities and ordinary people caught up in extraordinary situations; call it Brothers on a Train.’
    • ‘In fact the identity of these ‘planners’ is never sufficiently investigated.’
    • ‘The only clue the police have to his identity is the fact that he appears to be a virtuoso stylophone player and only seems to be truly at ease when playing the magical instrument.’
    • ‘The fact that the identity of the vessel was known at the time the Japanese forces were dispatched to hunt down the sub was revealed over the ensuing days.’
    • ‘It was a widely known fact that the identity of the five most powerful superhumans was a closely guarded secret.’
    • ‘The claimant has to prove not merely his own identity but also the fact of his parents' marriage.’
    • ‘Costumes are in pastel shades and of Fifties vintage, witty in their matching detail for the tale of two sets of identical twins and multiple mistaken identities.’
    • ‘Mistaken identity, of course, has been the province of much postcolonial fiction.’
    • ‘Like the films they screen, the festival has its own share of ‘real-life’ high drama and plots based on mistaken identities.’
    • ‘What follows is a farrago of mistaken identities and gender reversals, a painful rip-off of Shakespeare in Love without any of the wit, charm or heart.’
    • ‘NBC has revealed the identities of the 18 contestants that will compete on The Biggest Loser's fourth season.’
    identification, recognition, naming, singling out, picking out, pinpointing, placing
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    1. 1.1The characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is.
      ‘he wanted to develop a more distinctive Scottish Tory identity’
      • ‘That is, what about people who deliberately disrupt the continuity that ordinarily characterizes our identity?’
      • ‘My appreciation of this country stems from the fact that our national identity is impossible to pin down.’
      • ‘What should be one of the most important facts of our national identity is instead one of the government's most closely guarded secrets!’
      • ‘Many people - most, in fact - shape their identities as partners of lovers who become spouses and fellow-parents.’
      • ‘One commonly observed facet of the gay scene is that people often seek to define their very identities by the fact that they go to certain venues.’
      • ‘Children thus formulate their identities in ways that make rural connections essential to both their ethnic and national identities as productive citizens.’
      • ‘Each stage in this progression apparently moves him from the status of hero to that of outcast, but in fact both identities are implicated in him from the very start.’
      • ‘So, when you get involved into the European community your sense of your own national identity is enhanced in fact.’
      • ‘However, the fact that some tribal identities do not survive into later centuries underlines the political volatility of the period.’
      • ‘One could argue, in fact, that ethnic identity itself is a way of talking about access to resources.’
      • ‘Understanding the myriad ways that Americans interacted with the world provides new insights into the construction of American literary and national identities.’
      • ‘The modern state mediates national, sexual and ethnic identities in the public sphere.’
      • ‘After nine decades, our national identity has changed dramatically.’
      • ‘Multiculturalism is a political ideology that has completely altered the demographic identity of this nation.’
      • ‘For decades, the national identity represented a progressive Utopia in her eyes.’
      • ‘The assumption is that the European nations have superior monocultural identities which are threatened by dark hordes who will destroy the democratic heart of the continent.’
      • ‘Identities explores the relationship of racial, ethnic and national identities and power hierarchies within national and global arenas.’
      • ‘History has proven that such integration movements on the whole have given new strength to national identities.’
      • ‘All over the world, youth are participating in movements against the same systems of power that threaten to manipulate the economic and social identities of whole nations.’
      • ‘There are ‘diasporas’ of all national and ethnic identities in most countries which have had substantial levels of immigration.’
      individuality, self, selfhood, ego, personality, character, originality, distinctiveness, distinction, singularity, peculiarity, uniqueness, differentness
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    2. 1.2as modifier (of an object) serving to establish who the holder, owner, or wearer is by bearing their name and often other details such as a signature or photograph.
      ‘an identity card’
      • ‘Tickets issued at student fares are only valid for travel in conjunction with a valid student identity card bearing a photograph of the holder.’
      • ‘Young people across South Lakeland and Furness are being encouraged by police to carry photograph identity cards to prove their age.’
      • ‘All candidates were expected to have identity cards bearing their photographs to prevent other people sitting examinations for them.’
      • ‘The law states that photographs on Italian identity cards must show a person's features clearly.’
      • ‘The code also requires contractors to be in uniform or be easily identifiable and carry identity cards with their photograph.’
      • ‘The man disappeared after a prospective client from Kasama Drug Store challenged him to reveal his real name and identity card.’
      • ‘Bookings should be in name via the identity card and/or passport, to short circuit the ticket scalps.’
      • ‘College managers are insisting that students and staff wear photographic identity cards on colour coded ribbons visible at all times to security guards.’
      • ‘Registered health workers always carry identity badges with their photographs displayed.’
      • ‘Authoritarian measures like the introduction of costly and unworkable identity cards show that Labour have tipped the balance between freedom and control too far the wrong way.’
      • ‘It is introducing identity cards, restricting immigration, seeking to curb the right of habeas corpus and extending antisocial behaviour orders.’
      • ‘When the worried monks called the police, they found that the two fraudsters had presented fake identity cards, fake addresses, and a fake account number.’
      • ‘Thereafter, only those with identity cards should be allowed to stay.’
      • ‘As they collect passes and identity cards required to enter the counting booth, he pulls up those who are late and pulls the legs of his younger followers.’
      • ‘Mexican officials are giving Mexican government IDs to illegal aliens in this country to be used as identity cards.’
      • ‘Before giving the go-ahead for identity cards, we should be offered a properly-reasoned case and an opportunity of airing all points of view.’
      • ‘Parents and children do not fully understand the privacy and civil rights issues that are being eroded by this back door introduction of teenage identity cards.’
      • ‘The administration is now drafting a population bill to curb urbanization and to expel poor migrants who do not have Jakarta identity cards.’
      • ‘They have not been provided with identity cards because they are regarded as illegitimate residents by the local administration.’
  • 2A close similarity or affinity.

    ‘an identity between the company's own interests and those of the local community’
    • ‘There is a close identity between Celtic FC and Roman Catholicism, and also between Rangers FC and Scottish cultural Protestantism.’
    • ‘Westmorland claims a close identity with aviation pioneering, the jubilee of which is being celebrated this week.’
    • ‘In the present case the Inspector had based his earlier conclusion on the close identity between the Company and the Second Respondent.’
    • ‘It discusses the identities and similarities between OXYB and the yeast Osh proteins.’
    identicalness, sameness, selfsameness, oneness, congruity, congruence, indistinguishability, interchangeability
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  • 3

    (also identity operation)
    A transformation that leaves an object unchanged.

    ‘Any object, indeed any molecule, will contain at least one of these symmetry elements - the operation C 1 known as the identity operation - a rotation of 360°, the equivalent of doing nothing.’
    • ‘The table gives the result of all possible pairwise combinations of the four operations I, R, P and Y (which stand for the identity operation and for 180-degree rotations around the roll, pitch and yaw axes).’
    1. 3.1An element of a set which, if combined with another element by a specified binary operation, leaves that element unchanged.
      ‘Group theory studies not a single structure, but a type of structure, the pattern common to collections of objects with a binary operation, an identity element thereon, and inverses for each element.’
      • ‘First, among the operations there must be an identity element - an operation that leaves the system unchanged.’
      • ‘For example, the collection of integers under addition is a group (the identity element is 0), and groups occur throughout mathematics from geometry to combinatorics to cryptography.’
      • ‘The Lie algebra as a vector space can be identified with the tangent space at the identity element of the group.’
      • ‘When you use an operation to combine an identity with another number, that number stays the same.’
  • 4Mathematics
    The equality of two expressions for all values of the quantities expressed by letters, or an equation expressing this, e.g. (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1.

    • ‘Identity and equality are two fundamental binary relations which relate expressions of a given type.’


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘quality of being identical’): from late Latin identitas, from Latin idem ‘same’.