dif·fer | \ˈdi-fər \
differed; differing\-f(ə-)riŋ \

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


disagree, dissent


agree, assent, concur

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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

This is not a great geopolitical time to send mixed messages about space, since there is a war of words over space weapons between Russia and the United States that reflects differing realities over the future. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "5 Space Forces From Sci-Fi and What We Can Learn From Them," 6 July 2018 The differing levels provide a sort of spatial separation between the functions of the home, while interior courtyards further integrate the landscape into the home’s design. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Cool concrete summer home sits among a sea of trees," 3 July 2018 Sessions actually argued about how the Trump administration differs from Nazi Germany. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Jeff Sessions Explaining How the Trump Administration Is Not Like Nazi Germany Is Peak Dumpster Fire," 19 June 2018 According to Laughter, her differing perspective on church teachings wasn’t well received around the ranch. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Two: By a Thread," 16 May 2018 The use of college and career readiness indicators is becoming standard across the country, but the actual indicators can differ in each state. Christopher Harress, AL.com, "Woman killed after hit and run on I-65," 26 Mar. 2018 How do vestibular migraines differ from classic migraines? Korin Miller, SELF, "How to Tell if Vestibular Migraines Are Why You Get Dizzy So Often," 12 July 2018 Then the man turned to the woman and pointed out how the green-blue glaze of their mugs seemed to differ. Weike Wang, The New Yorker, "Omakase," 6 June 2018 For anyone worried that society had fully moved past the whole V for Vendetta hacker schtick, the person or persons who breached Ticketfly this week beg to differ. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Valve Squashes Decade-Old Steam Security Bug," 2 June 2018

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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Phrases Related to differ

beg to differ

Statistics for differ

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for differ

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

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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 \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on differ

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Spanish Central: Translation of differ

Nglish: Translation of differ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of differ for Arabic Speakers

Comments on differ

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


lying above or upon

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