dif·​fer | \ ˈdi-fər How to pronounce differ (audio) \
differed; differing\ ˈdi-​f(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce differing (audio) \

Definition of differ

intransitive verb

1a : to be unlike or distinct in nature, form, or characteristics the law of one state differs from that of another
b : to change from time to time or from one instance to another : vary the number of cookies in a box may differ
2 : to be of unlike or opposite opinion : disagree they differ on religious matters I beg to differ with your interpretation.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for differ



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Examples of differ in a Sentence

The two schools differ in their approach to discipline. my brother and I differ markedly in the way we handle money
Recent Examples on the Web Shadow boxes differ one from another in the mechanisms used to hold your treasures. Field & Stream, "Three Things to Consider When Choosing a Shadow Box," 20 Nov. 2020 Those findings differ from what was found in some exit polls. Melanie Mason Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "As Trump attacks election outcome, Americans are less confident in the vote count, USC poll finds," 19 Nov. 2020 How does playing a conference-only schedule in the case of the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 differ from a league playing limited nonconference matchups like in the ACC and Big 12. Matt Murschel, orlandosentinel.com, "College Football Playoff official: Semifinals, NY6 bowls will proceed as scheduled," 13 Nov. 2020 The candidates also differ on short-term vacation rentals. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Gloria has significant lead over Bry for San Diego mayor, according to early returns," 3 Nov. 2020 Dear Amy: As a man, I have always been intrigued by how women's emotions and reactions differ from men's. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Mom’s addiction and abuse roils household," 7 Sep. 2020 Psaki and Klain's comments differ from what Biden told reporters during his first press conference as president-elect earlier this week. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden campaign begins publicly nudging GSA to trigger transition," 13 Nov. 2020 The forecast models differ on total weekend precipitation, though none expect too much. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, "Rain, snow in California forecast — though climate experts warn of deepening drought," 5 Nov. 2020 Now down to the nitty gritty: Pillowcases and shams differ in form, too. Stefanie Waldek, House Beautiful, "Pillow Shams Are the Key to Making Your Bed Look Perfect," 2 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'differ.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of differ

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for differ

Middle English differren, differen, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French differer "to be different," borrowed (with conjugational change) from Latin differre "to carry away in varying directions, spread abroad, postpone, delay, be unlike or distinct," from dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis- + ferre "to carry, convey"

Note: The meanings of Latin differre, in particular the sense "to be unlike or distinct," copy those of Greek diaphérein, formed with the cognate verb phérein "to carry." English differ is not distinct etymologically from defer entry 1; the two were originally variants with stress on either the first or last syllable, with the meanings "delay" and "be unlike" eventually being restricted to one of the two variants.

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Time Traveler for differ

Time Traveler

The first known use of differ was in the 15th century

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Statistics for differ

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Differ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for differ


How to pronounce differ (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of differ

: to be different
: to have opinions that don't agree


dif·​fer | \ ˈdi-fər How to pronounce differ (audio) \
differed; differing

Kids Definition of differ

1 : to be unlike : be different “And so, as we differ from all ordinary people, let us become friends.”— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz
2 : disagree sense 1 We differ on how best to proceed.

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