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 Here's a look at Harry and Meghan's invitation, which differ from Eugenie's primarily in the crest at the top. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Comparing Royal Family Wedding Invitations Through the Years," 16 Sep. 2018 The advisory group’s estimate differs, estimating the city could pay down enough debt to have no more than a 5 cent increase to the rate. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "Public safety facilities focus of Friendswood bond proposition," 16 Sep. 2019 Most Republicans differ with the majority of Democrats and independents on this: 55% see more job prospects in increasing production of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas. CBS News, "Most Americans say climate change should be addressed now — CBS News poll," 15 Sep. 2019 While common, lupus is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms — joint pain, fever, fatigue, rashes — are also seen in other health problems, and the symptoms differ from person to person. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Kim Kardashian West Says She 'Couldn’t Even Pick Up the Kids' During Health Scare," 13 Sep. 2019 What constitutes a heritage tree differs by municipality, and is often associated with legal protections. Jennifer Fisher, chicagotribune.com, "Evanston aldermen look to increase protections for trees on private property," 13 Sep. 2019 Opinions differed, however, whether the new director should be required to pass a NFPA physical. Catalina Righter, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Carroll County getting closer to first director of fire and EMS, with job listing coming soon," 12 Sep. 2019 In that portion that is controlled by art, writers will differ, sometimes radically. Joseph Epstein, National Review, "The Art of Punctuation," 12 Sep. 2019 All of these options would differ from the current US system, which is a mix of public programs — Medicare and Medicaid — and private insurers, paying a variety of different rates to medical providers. BostonGlobe.com, "What does Medicare for All mean?," 12 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for differ

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for differ

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

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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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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).


not being in agreement or harmony

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