Definitions

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

  • noun An attribute that distinguishes one entity from another, especially an attribute that distinguishes one species from others of the same genus.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In logic, the characteristic attribute of a species, or that by which it is distinguished from other species of the same genus; specific difference (which see, under difference).
  • noun In Gregorian music, a cadence or trope. Also called distinctio.

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

  • noun (Logic) The formal or distinguishing part of the essence of a species, by which it is distinguished from other members of its genus; the characteristic attribute of a species; specific difference.
  • noun the set of characteristics distinguishing an entity from related entities.

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

  • noun semantics, logic A distinguishing feature which marks something off from other members of the same family.
  • noun taxonomy The attribute that distinguishes a species from others of the same genus

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

  • noun distinguishing characteristics (especially in different species of a genus)

Etymologies

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

[Latin, difference, from differēns, different-, present participle of differre, to differ; see differ.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin differentia.

Examples

  • The character that distinguishes one species from others within the same genus is called the differentia specifica.

    The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas

  • For we are still faced with the apparent fact that genus + differentia constitutes a plurality even if the differentia is the last, or “completing,” one.

    Aristotle's Metaphysics

  • Popularly this was described by saying that the differentia is the knife that carves a species out of the genus.

    The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas

  • By quality I mean not that which is in the substance (for even the differentia is a quality), but the passive quality, in virtue of which a thing is said to be acted on or to be incapable of being acted on.

    Metaphysics

  • Likewise you must inquire also if the species or any of the objects that come under it is predicated of the differentia: for this is impossible, seeing that the differentia is a term with a wider range than the various species.

    Topics

  • Moreover, if any of the species be predicated of it, the result will be that the differentia is a species: if, for instance, ‘man’ be predicated, the differentia is clearly the human race.

    Topics

  • And here, to prevent the notion of differentia from being restricted within too narrow limits, it is necessary to remark, that a species, even as referred to the same genus, will not always have the same differentia, but a different one, according to the principle and purpose which preside over the particular classification.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive (Vol. 1 of 2)

  • And here, to prevent the notion of differentia from being restricted within too narrow limits, it is necessary to remark, that a species, even as referred to the same genus, will not always have the same differentia, but a different one, according to the principle and purpose which preside over the particular classification.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive

  • This gives the 'differentia' of the Utilitarian considered as one species of the genus 'Radical.'

    The English Utilitarians, Volume II (of 3) James Mill

  • I read it in Latin, and it says: the substances, that is human beings or cats are a composition of real components, but the accidence for example the colour white, though can be defined with genus and differentia, has only a mental composition.

    Clarification

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