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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for differ


contrast, vary


compare, match

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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

Officials and witnesses differed on whether the plane either fell shortly after takeoff or ran off the runway without really gaining altitude. Fox News, "Airliner crashes in northern Mexico; no deaths, 37 injured," 31 July 2018 The states’ statutes differ on the specifics, as CNN reports. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "New York and Virginia Become the First States to Require Mental Health Education in Schools," 4 July 2018 And Calley and Schuette differed on their roles in helping Detroit emerge from bankruptcy. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "GOP gubernatorial candidates try to make impressions in last debate," 28 June 2018 On Tuesday, legal scholars differed on whether the justices actually overturned the Korematsu decision. Teresa Watanabe, latimes.com, "Supreme Court denunciation of ruling upholding WWII internment bittersweet, Japanese Americans say," 27 June 2018 Prosecution and defense differ on Greis intoxication level in opening statements. Jennie Key, Cincinnati.com, "DUI or road rage? Pollitt murder case heads to closing arguments," 26 June 2018 Bethlehem is split between two counties headed by district attorneys who differ on the issue. Nicole Radzievich, Philly.com, "Bethlehem votes to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana," 20 June 2018 After the game, player and coach differed on whether Hickman gave Bay the green light to swing at the 3-0 pitch. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "WIAA softball: Whitnall rallies to reach Division 2 title game," 8 June 2018 The candidates differed on the county’s settlement agreement with federal housing officials that requires the county to spend more money on affordable housing. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore County executive candidates outline visions in debate," 6 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for differ

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for differ

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

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More Definitions for differ



English Language Learners Definition of differ

: to be different
: to have opinions that don't agree


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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on differ

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Spanish Central: Translation of differ

Nglish: Translation of differ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of differ for Arabic Speakers

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