difference

noun
dif·​fer·​ence | \ ˈdi-f(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce difference (audio) , ˈdi-fərn(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

Throughout the half, Sané was the defensive difference maker for Orlando City. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 3-3 draw with the New England Revolution," 17 Sep. 2019 Open to anyone age 15 and above who wants to make a difference. courant.com, "Community News For The Farmington Valley Edition," 16 Sep. 2019 To deduce its value, Hessels and colleagues had to measure the Lamb shift: the difference between hydrogen’s first and second excited energy levels, called the 2S and 2P states. Wired, "Physicists Finally Nail the Proton’s Size, and Hope Dies," 15 Sep. 2019 Bryce Corriston's 1-yard run with 2:50 remaining in the game was a difference-maker. Adam Coleman, Houston Chronicle, "Friday night highlights: North Shore rallies past Westfield," 13 Sep. 2019 Lupus, aka systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease that affects the body’s ability to tell the difference between foreign invaders (think: the flu) and healthy tissue. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "Kim Kardashian Just Tested Positive For Lupus Antibodies—But What Does That Mean?," 9 Sep. 2019 Both Coleman and Melvin played for the New England Patriots early in their career and know this defensive system well, but neither has been a difference maker to this point in their careers. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' defense, special teams: What to expect from 2019 crew," 5 Sep. 2019 Taking the time to brown the ground beef well and cook out the tomato paste makes a huge difference. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "Who Needs Fancy Pasta When You Have D.I.Y. Hamburger Helper?," 16 Sep. 2019 Competition with the newcomers put Neanderthal populations under extreme pressure and, in those circumstances, small factors might have made a big difference. The Economist, "Neanderthals had a propensity for earache, nudging them to their doom," 12 Sep. 2019

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

11 Oct 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 How to pronounce difference (audio) , 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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Comments on difference

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