Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun dis·crep·an·cy \dis-ˈkre-pən-sē\

Simple Definition of discrepancy

  • : a difference especially between things that should be the same

Full Definition of discrepancy

plural dis·crep·an·cies

  1. 1 :  the quality or state of disagreeing or being at variance

  2. 2 :  an instance of disagreeing or being at variance

Examples of discrepancy

  1. Dr. Derman, who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs and became managing director, was a forerunner of the many physicists and other scientists who have flooded Wall Street in recent years, moving from a world in which a discrepancy of a few percentage points in a measurement can mean a Nobel Prize or unending mockery to a world in which a few percent one way can land you in jail and a few percent the other way can win you your own private Caribbean island. —Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2009

  2. Why the difference? Why are some individuals so outwardly altered by time and others not? Or, in other words, why is there often a discrepancy between chronological age and biological age? —Time, 17 Oct. 2005

  3. If an article is on one machine but not the other, a copy is made to eliminate the discrepancy. —Simson Garfinkel, Technology Review, November 2001

  4. The discrepancy can't be written off simply as lack of data, because it shows up in one of the best-studied periods in Earth's history … —Tim Appenzeller, Science, 12 Feb. 1993

  5. Discrepancies in the firm's financial statements led to an investigation.

  6. There were discrepancies between their accounts of the accident.

Origin of discrepancy

(see discrepant)

First Known Use: circa 1623

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up discrepancy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift pince-nez duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.