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 Cultural issues also could play a role, though infectious disease experts aren’t sure in what ways New Yorkers might differ from Californians that might explain the differences. Erin Allday, SFChronicle.com, "New York state has 10 times the coronavirus cases California has. Why?," 24 Mar. 2020 That's where the coronavirus crisis most starkly differs from the financial collapse. Author: Julie Pace, Steven Sloan, Anchorage Daily News, "Fallout of ’08 bailout looms over Washington negotiations," 23 Mar. 2020 Republicans and Democrats have differed from the start on how much of the money should go toward traditional aid programs like unemployment insurance, food aid and similar programs. Steven T. Dennis, Fortune, "‘We’re fiddling here:’ Coronavirus bailout bill paralyzed as Senate spars over big corporate aid," 23 Mar. 2020 De Blasio and Cuomo have differed in their public comments on such an order, with the decision ultimately being left up to Cuomo. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, "New York Governor Mandates All Non-Essential Workers Stay Home," 20 Mar. 2020 The motion to place the case on hold states that any ruling in that case concerning the casting and counting of ballots could differ from and imperil the potential ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court. Randy Ludlow/columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio Supreme Court moving to rule quickly on primary election dispute," 18 Mar. 2020 Baybrook, Deerbrook, First Colony, Memorial City, Willowbrook and The Woodlands malls will operate Monday through Saturday between noon and 7 p.m. Sunday hours differ. Paul Takahashi, Houston Chronicle, "Galleria, Houston Premium Outlets and Katy Mills malls to temporarily close during pandemic," 18 Mar. 2020 Penalties and rules for a shelter in place could differ depending on the area. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "What does it mean to shelter in place?," 17 Mar. 2020 Moreover, public assistance is highly uneven and differs significantly from state to state. Simon F. Haeder, The Conversation, "Experts agree that Trump’s coronavirus response was poor, but the US was ill-prepared in the first place," 17 Mar. 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

27 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Differ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ. Accessed 8 Apr. 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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Spanish Central: Translation of differ

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Britannica English: Translation of differ for Arabic Speakers

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