adjective \ˌdi-fə-ˈren(t)-shəl\

: relating to or based on a difference : treating some people or groups differently from others

Full Definition of DIFFERENTIAL

a :  of, relating to, or constituting a difference :  distinguishing
b :  making a distinction between individuals or classes
c :  based on or resulting from a differential
d :  functioning or proceeding differently or at a different rate
:  being, relating to, or involving a differential or differentiation
a :  relating to quantitative differences
b :  producing effects by reason of quantitative differences
dif·fer·en·tial·ly \-ˈren(t)-shə-lē\ adverb


  1. <did away with differential pay scales for men and women doing the same work>

First Known Use of DIFFERENTIAL




: a difference between people or things

: a gear or an arrangement of gears in a vehicle that allows one wheel to turn faster than another when the vehicle is going around a curve

Full Definition of DIFFERENTIAL

a :  the product of the derivative of a function of one variable by the increment of the independent variable
b :  a sum of products in which each product consists of a partial derivative of a given function of several variables multiplied by the corresponding increment and which contains as many products as there are independent variables in the function
:  a difference between comparable individuals or classes <a price differential>; also :  the amount of such a difference
a :  a drivetrain gear assembly connecting two collinear shafts or axles (as those of the rear wheels of an automobile) and permitting one shaft to revolve faster than the other
b :  a case covering such an assembly

First Known Use of DIFFERENTIAL


Other Mechanical Engineering Terms

centrifuge, flange, lathe, linchpin, pinion, plenum, ratchet, traction



adjective \ˌdif-ə-ˈren-chəl\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of DIFFERENTIAL

: of, relating to, or constituting a difference <differential birth rates in different economic levels>
: making a distinction between individuals or classes <differential cell counts> <differential staining>
dif·fer·en·tial·ly \-ˈrench-(ə-)lē\ adverb


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In calculus, an expression based on the derivative of a function, useful for approximating certain values of the function. The differential of an independent variable x, written x, is an infinitesimal change in its value. The corresponding differential of its dependent variable y is given by y = f(x + x)  f(x). Because the derivative of the function f(x), f(x), is equal to the ratio as x approaches zero (see limit), for small values of x, y  f(x)x. This formula often enables a quick and fairly accurate approximation to be made for what otherwise would be a tedious calculation.


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