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 There’s a sense of idealism and altruism, and wanting to make a difference in the world. Caitlin Gibson, Washington Post, "‘Do you have white teenage sons? Listen up.’ How white supremacists are recruiting boys online.," 17 Sep. 2019 The differences in gut bacteria and fungi between preterm and term babies were very consistent and stark. Kent Willis, The Conversation, "The womb isn’t sterile – healthy babies are born with bacteria and fungi in their guts," 13 Sep. 2019 In that intro, choir director Anthony T. White watched a video of several of his young singers thanking him for making such a positive difference in their lives. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "They did it! Detroit Youth Choir will compete next week in 'America's Got Talent' finals," 12 Sep. 2019 As Mond’s biggest critic on the field and biggest supporter off it, Fisher pointed out the quarterback’s receivers had at least seven dropped passes at Clemson that might have meant a difference in the two-touchdown game. Brent Zwerneman, ExpressNews.com, "A&M QB Mond takes responsibility for mistakes against Clemson," 10 Sep. 2019 For Florida, just a handful of miles may make a huge difference in Hurricane Dorian’s slow dance with the coast. Seth Borenstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Cutting it close: Florida’s fate may be a matter of miles," 2 Sep. 2019 Kristen Stewart plays Seberg as the young leading lady who yearns for meatier onscreen roles and desires to make a difference in her work. Ariston Anderson, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kristen Stewart Talks 'Seberg' and Finally Embracing Her Place in the Spotlight," 30 Aug. 2019 And in the hectic world of highly selective college admissions, that little bit could make all the difference. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Fine Line Campus Tour Guides Walk—Backwards," 29 Aug. 2019 But first, a helping hand can make all the difference. The Christian Science Monitor, "Dousing the political fire over the Amazon," 27 Aug. 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

25 Oct 2019

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
How to pronounce difference (audio)

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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