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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hosey saw first-hand the difference a diverse workforce, and its absence, can make in the way patients are treated on ambulances in low-income neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Akila Muthukumar, STAT, 2 Aug. 2022 With this insight, internal communicators can develop content that makes a difference for the sales team and best supports their efforts. Angela Ivey, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 In addition to eliminating much of the pleasure and charm of everyday male-female interactions, the constant demonizing of men has led us to lose sight of what is valuable and generative in male and female difference. Zoë Heller, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Others were innovators, ground-breakers, winners and socially conscious difference-makers, but none had the complete package of William Felton Russell, who passed away at the age of 88. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 July 2022 There's nothing more thrilling than finding a budget-friendly item that makes a difference in your home. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, 27 July 2022 And Claire Emslie, who came off the bench at halftime to score the winning goal in her NWSL debut, said the crowd makes a difference. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2022 The fitness tracking wearable makes a great difference in her training. Aley Arion, Essence, 11 July 2022 Matamoros prefers thigh meat over the breast cutlets favored by most other sandwich shops, and that decision makes all the difference. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 27 June 2022 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, 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, 5 Oct. 2017 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for difference

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near difference

differ

difference

difference limen

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Statistics for difference

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Difference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/difference. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for difference

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on difference

Nglish: Translation of difference for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of difference for Arabic Speakers

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