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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for differ


contrast, vary


compare, match

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Finally, veteran left back newcomer Waylon Francis had struggled to fit within a Sounders system that differed from what he’d seen at Columbus. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "How Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer held his record-setting team together through dark times," 30 Oct. 2018 Surprisingly, Google Trends' findings revealed some fresh, surprising costume ideas that differed from those featured in reports from other platforms, such as Lyst and Pinterest. Ana Colón, Glamour, "These Are the Most Searched Halloween Costumes for 2018, According to Google," 15 Oct. 2018 Sephoria is the latest in a growing trend of activations that allow fans to interact with brands in a way that differs from an online experience or even shopping in physical stores, while also offering a side of plenty Instagrammable moments. Aria Darcella, Teen Vogue, "Sephora Is Launching An Experience-Driven Event in Los Angeles," 19 July 2018 In response to the report, Checks & Balances, a pro-sustainability watchdog group that differs with Seitz on state energy policy, filed a grievance against the Taft firm. Washington Post, "Firm hired to investigate lawmaker also donated to him," 27 June 2018 Muotri focused on one of approximately 200 protein-coding genes that differ between Neanderthals and modern humans. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Exclusive: Neanderthal “minibrains” grown in dish.," 20 June 2018 Mezcal is an increasingly popular type of liquor that differs from tequila in that it is made from any type of agave, while tequila is made only from blue agave. Geoff Bruce, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "BelAir Cantina manager shares secrets to a mouthwatering margarita," 20 June 2018 Not girls having their own NORMAL development curve that differs from boys. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "What The New York Times Got Wrong About Female Runners," 13 June 2018 Some say Leimert Park has its own identity and question the wisdom of linking it with a continent of diverse people, cultures and customs that differ in many ways from the black American experience. Angel Jennings, latimes.com, "There's Koreatown. There's Little Tokyo. So why can't Leimert Park be Africa Town? Or Wakanda?," 25 May 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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about differ

Statistics for differ

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for differ

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on differ

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for differ

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).


to boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!