dif·​fer | \ ˈdi-fər How to pronounce differ (audio) \
differed; differing\ ˈdi-​f(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce differ (audio) \

Definition of differ

intransitive verb

1a : to be unlike or distinct in nature, form, or characteristics the law of one state differs from that of another
b : to change from time to time or from one instance to another : vary the number of cookies in a box may differ
2 : to be of unlike or opposite opinion : disagree they differ on religious matters I beg to differ with your interpretation.

Synonyms & Antonyms for differ



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Examples of differ in a Sentence

The two schools differ in their approach to discipline. my brother and I differ markedly in the way we handle money
Recent Examples on the Web The curricula differ in pedagogical methods and better reflect the culture and history of their respective authors. Dov Lieber, WSJ, 29 July 2022 Only the people in the room know, and obviously memories differ. Jem Aswad, Variety, 29 July 2022 Asking audiences to dedicate their time and physical attention to the data, sonifications fundamentally differ from a visual presentation of the data and are much longer in duration than a narrativization of the information. Wired, 22 July 2022 The revolutions differ greatly, however, in the fact that the execution of Charles did not set off a violent purge of his family or supporters. Marilynne Robinson, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 Oklahoma’s cannabis laws differ drastically from California’s laws: no cap on the number of licenses, no canopy size cap, and no square footage cap. Benjamin Adams, Forbes, 15 July 2022 Why do oil prices sometimes differ around the world? Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, 15 July 2022 But the three dozen unvaccinated players differ widely from the general MLB player population. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 14 July 2022 But the two countries on Biden’s four-day itinerary — Israel and Saudi Arabia — differ sharply with the administration over how to handle those threats. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'differ.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of differ

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for differ

Middle English differren, differen, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French differer "to be different," borrowed (with conjugational change) from Latin differre "to carry away in varying directions, spread abroad, postpone, delay, be unlike or distinct," from dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis- + ferre "to carry, convey"

Note: The meanings of Latin differre, in particular the sense "to be unlike or distinct," copy those of Greek diaphérein, formed with the cognate verb phérein "to carry." English differ is not distinct etymologically from defer entry 1; the two were originally variants with stress on either the first or last syllable, with the meanings "delay" and "be unlike" eventually being restricted to one of the two variants.

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The first known use of differ was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Differ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for differ


dif·​fer | \ ˈdi-fər How to pronounce differ (audio) \
differed; differing

Kids Definition of differ

1 : to be unlike : be different "And so, as we differ from all ordinary people, let us become friends."— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz
2 : disagree sense 1 We differ on how best to proceed.

More from Merriam-Webster on differ

Nglish: Translation of differ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of differ for Arabic Speakers


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