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To distinguish means to note a significant difference or dissimilarity (usually between cases); to make a distinction. A party usually distinguishes one case from another as part of the argument that because of a certain distinction, the court’s decision in the first case should not apply as precedent (stare decisis) to the second case, despite any factual similarities between the cases. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]