from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality or condition of being unlike or dissimilar.
  • n. An instance of disparity or unlikeness.
  • n. A degree or amount by which things differ.
  • n. A specific point or element that distinguishes one thing from another.
  • n. A noticeable change or effect: Exercise has made a difference in her health.
  • n. A disagreement or controversy.
  • n. A cause of a disagreement or controversy.
  • n. Discrimination in taste or choice; distinction.
  • n. Mathematics The amount by which one quantity is greater or less than another.
  • n. Mathematics The amount that remains after one quantity is subtracted from another.
  • n. Archaic A distinct mark or peculiarity.
  • transitive v. To distinguish or differentiate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of differing; the state or measure of being different or unlike; distinction; dissimilarity; unlikeness; variation
  • n. Disagreement in opinion; dissension; controversy; quarrel; hence, cause of dissension; matter in controversy.
  • n. That by which one thing differs from another; that which distinguishes or causes to differ; mark of distinction; characteristic quality; specific attribute.
  • n. Choice; preference.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The quality or attribute which is added to those of the genus to constitute a species; a differentia.
  • n. The quantity by which one quantity differs from another, or the remainder left after subtracting the one from the other.
  • transitive v. To cause to differ; to make different; to mark as different; to distinguish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. The condition or relation of being other or different; the relation of non-identity; also, the relation between things unlike; dissimilarity in general.
  • n. Any special mode of non-identity; a relation which can subsist only between different things; also, a special relation involving unlikeness; a particular dissimilarity.
  • n. A character which one thing or kind of things has and another has not.
  • n. Controversy, or ground of controversy; a dispute; a quarrel.
  • n. An evidence or a mark of distinction.
  • n. The act of distinguishing; discrimination; distinction.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The increment of a function produced by increasing the variable by unity.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A part or division.
  • n. [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).
  • n. In mathematics, the result of performing the operation of taking the difference once.
  • n. .
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Dissension, contest, falling out, strife, wrangle, altercation.

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

  • n. a variation that deviates from the standard or norm
  • n. a disagreement or argument about something important
  • n. the number that remains after subtraction; the number that when added to the subtrahend gives the minuend
  • n. the quality of being unlike or dissimilar
  • n. a significant change


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



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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

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

    January 12, 2008