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

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 The 2021 Eagles differ from the 2020 Eagles in more than just record, starting at the top, where Nick Sirianni has produced a playoff team in his first season as an NFL head coach. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 7 Jan. 2022 The following scents differ in blend very much but have a culinary mix of aromatic ingredients. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021 The cases differ in many other ways, but activists see Milwaukee's as a test of whether a Black man can rely on self-defense the same way a white vigilante teen backed by conservative and gun rights advocates could. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 Dec. 2021 After that, their personal safeguards differ in ways both big and small. Los Angeles Times, 17 Dec. 2021 Those tiers differ in terms of the number of venues users have access to watch movies. Brent Lang, Variety, 12 Nov. 2021 Neem oil pesticides also can differ in how they're formulated for application. Megan Hughes, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Nov. 2021 According to Lacan, tree species differ in their susceptibility to drought, and where they are planted is important too. Kellie Hwang, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Oct. 2021 In my defense, the beauty rituals that have become de rigueur for 21st century brides differ from my experience wearing white 31 years ago. Sally Schwartz, chicagotribune.com, 15 Oct. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Differ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for differ



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on differ

Nglish: Translation of differ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of differ for Arabic Speakers


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