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

In a recent post, Bobby suggests a simple risk that can make all the difference—specifically in a dining room—mix and match. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Bobby Berk Wants You To Mix And Match Your Dining Room Chairs—Here’s How," 10 Jan. 2019 Despite the difference in hues, both dresses feature a lightweight high-low cape with stunning crystal embellishments on the shoulders over a pleated floor-length skirt. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Someone Channeled Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen Dress at the Golden Globes," 7 Jan. 2019 Of course, perceived differences in color on guitars could all just boil down to mojo. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "Can Guitar Paint Affect Your Tone?," 31 Dec. 2018 Sometimes, just knowing that someone else is listening can make all the difference in the world. Molly Burford, Teen Vogue, "4 Ways You Might Accidentally Be Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma," 28 Dec. 2018 The difference in symmetry between the three experiments generates a different flow in the fluid. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Quark-gluon plasma reveals viscosity-free properties," 19 Dec. 2018 The ply, or number of threads wrapped together, as well as fiber choice makes a difference, too. Hannah Morrill, ELLE Decor, "The Best Luxury Sheets For the Perfect Night's Sleep," 15 Nov. 2018 Researchers are still determining how much of a difference circumcision really makes here. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "11 Things Everyone Should Know About Uncircumcised Penises," 29 Dec. 2018 Those differences allow the scientists to map subglacial topography. Daniela Hernandez, WSJ, "Climate’s Big Unknown: What’s Happening Beneath Antarctica’s Ice?," 29 Dec. 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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Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

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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