difference

noun
dif·​fer·​ence | \ˈdi-fərn(t)s, ˈdi-f(ə-)rən(t)s\

Definition of difference 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the quality or state of being dissimilar or different the difference between right and wrong

b : an instance of being unlike or distinct in nature, form, or quality noted the differences in color and texture

c archaic : a characteristic that distinguishes one from another or from the average … an absolute gentleman, full of the most excellent differences— William Shakespeare

d : the element or factor that separates or distinguishes contrasting situations Timing is often the difference between success and failure.

2 : distinction or discrimination in preference

3a : disagreement in opinion : dissension

b : an instance or cause of disagreement unable to settle their differences

4 mathematics : the degree or amount by which things differ in quantity or measure specifically : remainder sense 2b(1)

5 : a significant change in or effect on a situation it makes no difference to me

difference

verb
differenced; differencing

Definition of difference (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: differentiate, distinguish … every individual has something that differences it from another …— John Locke

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Examples of difference in a Sentence

Noun

She knows the difference between right and wrong. There's no difference between the two houses. They look exactly the same. There's a big difference in price.

Verb

people who cannot difference God's will from their own selfish desires and prejudices
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Prince Louis' christening featured several key differences from the christenings of his brother and sister. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George and Princess Charlotte Attend Prince Louis' Christening in the Cutest Way Ever," 9 July 2018 Moving from bench coach to the manager’s seat, Riggleman has shown some differences from Price. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Jim Riggleman shows his own style of managing in interim role with Cincinnati Reds," 12 July 2018 Aside from the obvious difference that Eve will have aged 18 years between the two movies, Banks is promising more updates as well. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About "Life-Size 2" So Far," 10 July 2018 There were a few slight differences with Meghan's dress today and her wedding look, of course. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Wore The Little Black Dress Version Of Her Wedding Gown," 10 July 2018 Even patients who are using the specific drugs on Pfizer’s list may not notice much of a difference in their pocketbooks after the Tuesday deal, experts said. Erin Mershon, STAT, "What Pfizer, Trump, and consumers got out of a surprising deal — and what they didn’t," 11 July 2018 As Davis spent a mere four hours this year negotiating with his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, his absence also may not make much of a difference. David Meyer, Fortune, "Xiaomi Surge, Trade War and Tesla, Uber and Lime: CEO Daily for July 10, 2018," 10 July 2018 Many of the differences in the genomes of nerve cells are due to the presence of mobile genetic elements called retrotransposons. Robert Martone, Scientific American, "Early Life Experience: It’s in Your DNA," 10 July 2018 As a culture, how far has the music industry come in terms of trans-awareness and support and acceptance of difference, of the full range of human experience with gender? Ray Rogers, Billboard, "Lava Records' CEO Jason Flom on His New Children's Book 'Lulu Is a Rhinoceros' & the Future of Rock 'n' Roll," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But that’s largely attributed to the singular genius of coach Bill Belichick, who is famous for his ability to adapt his game plan and players to difference situations each week. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions GM, coach should stop playing games and answer questions," 2 Mar. 2018 For the days closest to the equinox, the Harvest Moon rise occurs between 30 and 35 minutes difference each day, as opposed to the normal 50 minutes through most of the rest of the year. Richard Tribou, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Rare October Harvest Moon rises tonight," 5 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'difference.' 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 difference

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for difference

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin differentia "distinction, distinguishing characteristic," from different-, differens, present participle of differre "to carry in varying directions, delay, differ" + -ia -ia entry 1

Note: Latin differentia was used by Cicero and others as an equivalent of Greek diaphorá, a nominal derivative of diaphérein (see note at differ).

Verb

derivative of difference entry 1

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Statistics for difference

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for difference

The first known use of difference was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for difference

difference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of difference

: the quality that makes one person or thing unlike another

: something that people do not agree about : a disagreement in opinion

: the degree or amount by which things differ

difference

noun
dif·​fer·​ence | \ˈdi-fə-rens, ˈdi-frəns\

Kids Definition of difference

1 : what makes two or more persons or things not the same I can't see any difference between the two designs.

2 : a disagreement about something They've always had their differences.

3 : the number that is left after subtracting one number from another The difference between six and four is two.

4 : an important change A tutor has made a difference in his grades.

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