from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The quality or condition of being unlike or dissimilar.
  • noun An instance of disparity or unlikeness.
  • noun A degree or amount by which things differ.
  • noun A noticeable change or effect.
  • noun A disagreement or controversy.
  • noun Discrimination in taste or choice; distinction.
  • noun The amount by which one quantity is greater or less than another.
  • noun The amount that remains after one quantity is subtracted from another.
  • transitive verb To distinguish or differentiate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The condition or relation of being other or different; the relation of non-identity; also, the relation between things unlike; dissimilarity in general.
  • noun Any special mode of non-identity; a relation which can subsist only between different things; also, a special relation involving unlikeness; a particular dissimilarity.
  • noun A character which one thing or kind of things has and another has not.
  • noun Controversy, or ground of controversy; a dispute; a quarrel.
  • noun An evidence or a mark of distinction.
  • noun The act of distinguishing; discrimination; distinction.
  • noun In mathematics: The quantity by which one quantity differs from another; the remainder of a sum or quantity after a lesser sum or quantity is subtracted.
  • noun The increment of a function produced by increasing the variable by unity.
  • noun In heraldry, a bearing used to discriminate between shields or achievements of arms, as of brothers who inherit an equal right to the paternal coat. The most common form of differencing is cadency; another is the baston.
  • noun On the exchanges, the amount of variation between the price at which it is agreed to sell and deliver a thing at a fixed time and the market-price of the thing when that time arrives. In wagering contracts, payment of the difference is expected and accepted in lieu of actual delivery.
  • noun A part or division.
  • noun [Difference is often followed by a prepositional phrase indicating the things or persons that differ. The preposition is usually between or among, or from, but sometimes also to (after the formula different to: see remarks under different).
  • noun In mathematics, the result of performing the operation of taking the difference once.
  • noun .
  • noun A difference between individuals of the same species; a character possessed by one individual and not by the others of the same species. Also frequently called individual, individuant, or singular difference.
  • noun Synonyms and Difference, Distinction, Diversity, Dissimilarity, Disparity, Disagreement, Variance, Discrimination, contrariety, dissimilitude, variety. The first five words express the fact of unlikeness; difference and distinction apply also to that wherein the unlikeness lies, and discrimination to the act of making or marking a difference, and to the faculty of discerning differences. (See discernment.) Distinction applies also to the eminence conferred on account of difference. Difference is the most general, applying to things small or great, internal or external. Distinction is generally, but not always, external, and generally marks delicate differences: as, the distinction between two words that are almost synonymous. Diversity, by its derivation, is a great or radical difference, equal to going in opposite directions. Dissimilarity is unlikeness, generally in large degree or essential points. Disparity is inequality, generally in rank or age. Disagreement and variance are weak words by their original meaning, but through euphemistic use have come to stand for dissimilarity of opinion of almost any degree, and for the resulting alienation of feeling, or even dissension and strife.
  • noun Dissension, contest, falling out, strife, wrangle, altercation.
  • To cause a difference or distinction in or between; make different or distinct.
  • To distinguish; discriminate; note the difference of or between.
  • In heraldry, to bear with a difference; add a difference to.
  • In mathematics, to take the difference of (a function); also, to compute the successive differences of the numbers in a table.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cause to differ; to make different; to mark as different; to distinguish.
  • noun The act of differing; the state or measure of being different or unlike; distinction; dissimilarity; unlikeness; variation
  • noun Disagreement in opinion; dissension; controversy; quarrel; hence, cause of dissension; matter in controversy.
  • noun That by which one thing differs from another; that which distinguishes or causes to differ; mark of distinction; characteristic quality; specific attribute.
  • noun obsolete Choice; preference.
  • noun (Her.) An addition to a coat of arms to distinguish the bearings of two persons, which would otherwise be the same. See Augmentation, and Marks of cadency, under Cadency.
  • noun (Logic) The quality or attribute which is added to those of the genus to constitute a species; a differentia.
  • noun (Math.) The quantity by which one quantity differs from another, or the remainder left after subtracting the one from the other.
  • noun See under Ascensional.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The quality of being different.
  • noun countable A characteristic of something that makes it different from something else.
  • noun countable A disagreement or argument.
  • noun countable, uncountable Significant change in or effect on a situation or state.
  • noun countable The result of a subtraction; sometimes the absolute value of this result.
  • verb : (transitive) To distinguish or differentiate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a variation that deviates from the standard or norm
  • noun a disagreement or argument about something important
  • noun the number that remains after subtraction; the number that when added to the subtrahend gives the minuend


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old French difference, from Latin differentia ("difference"), from differens ("different"), present participle of differre


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  • Here's a 'Spot the Differences' game that's challenging:

    January 12, 2008

  • Might just as well be happy, seeing as it doesn't make a difference to anyone but you if you are or not.

    -The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo

    August 4, 2009