variable

adjective
var·​i·​able | \ ˈver-ē-ə-bəl How to pronounce variable (audio) \

Definition of variable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : able or apt to vary : subject to variation or changes variable winds variable costs
2 : characterized by variations
3 : having the characteristics of a variable
4 : not true to type : aberrant used of a biological group or character

variable

noun

Definition of variable (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a quantity that may assume any one of a set of values
b : a symbol representing a variable
2a : something that is variable
b : a factor in a scientific experiment that may be subject to change

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Other Words from variable

Adjective

variability \ ˌver-​ē-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce variability (audio) \ noun
variableness \ ˈver-​ē-​ə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce variableness (audio) \ noun
variably \ -​blē How to pronounce variably (audio) \ adverb

Examples of variable in a Sentence

Adjective

The winds were light and variable. The loan has a variable interest rate.

Noun

unemployment and other economic variables
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Precipitation is naturally variable in this area, but there are some relevant climate trends that can’t be ignored. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "What is going on with California’s horrific fires?," 13 Nov. 2018 Hot flashes come and go; even mood swings are variable; sickness is not. Christina Boufis, Woman's Day, "Hammer and Nail," 20 May 2011 This is the butterfly Eresia datis, one of the most remarkably variable species out there that mimics local unpalatable species throughout its range. Erika Trombley, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About The CW's Adorable New Show “Ready, Set, Pet”," 29 Jan. 2019 In these cases, the electricity can be used to augment the more variable solar energy coming from the panels. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Floating solar is more than panels on a platform—it’s hydroelectric’s symbiont," 3 Nov. 2018 There are five trim levels for the base Accord, with a 192-hp, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. Mark Maynard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "2018 Honda Accord 2.0T: Near perfect, in an imperfect world," 1 June 2018 The 2019 Avalon Touring, which only comes with the 3.5-liter V6, is the first Toyota to be offered with adaptive variable suspension (AVS). Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "Toyota’s all-new 2019 Avalon hits dealerships in May," 28 Apr. 2018 California, for example, has set a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2045, deploying aggressive policies to encourage electric cars, rooftop solar power, and batteries on the power grid to store variable renewable energy. Umair Irfan, Vox, "World leaders are working out a climate deal in Poland — despite Trump," 14 Dec. 2018 And instead of gears, continuously variable transmissions use chains to provide an infinite number of ratios, allowing maximum efficiency in power delivery. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "10 Innovations That Made the Modern Car," 4 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At this point, there are many variables at play in the race. David Sharp, The Seattle Times, "What is Dems’ quest to unseat Collins missing? A candidate," 28 Jan. 2019 The chart is a visualization of how every variable required to make the game run changes over the course of ten seconds of play. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Believe It or Not, This Is Pac-Man," 25 Jan. 2019 Roughly speaking, the evidence suggests that changes in interest rates take one or two years to affect major macroeconomic variables like real gross domestic product and employment. Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, "An Independent Fed Isn’t ‘Loco,’ It’s Effective," 23 Jan. 2019 Square Roots develops hydroponic farms housed in shipping containers that use high-tech lighting systems and offer precise, scientific control of light and every other relevant variable, like water and nutrients. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Kimbal Musk Is Reinventing Food One Shipping Container at a Time," 24 Oct. 2018 Their estimates span a surprisingly wide range, a reflection of the long list of variables in play as the industry gets underway. Dan Adams, BostonGlobe.com, "The hidden, high-tech world of communications at Fenway Park," 10 July 2018 Taking into account variables like the cast, director, writer, budget, and plot summary, Pilot’s web app predicts the first weekend gross and full domestic box office take. Scott Bay, WIRED, "Could Artificial Intelligence Predict the Next Avengers: Infinity War?," 30 Apr. 2018 This allows scientists to separate out how variables like winter temperatures and rainfall in the preceding season influence ragweed pollen. Umair Irfan, Vox, "It’s not your imagination. Allergy season gets worse every year.," 28 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, as members of its own staff occupied the space, the researchers tinkered with variables like the temperature, the glare from outside sunlight, even the volume of simulated phone conversations. Outside Online, "Creating a workplace that truly makes us happy and healthy takes a lot more than standing desks and on-site yoga. Thankfully, new research has sparked a growing design revolution.," 26 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'variable.' 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 variable

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for variable

Adjective

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Late Latin variābilis "changeable," from Latin variāre "to make changeable, vary" + -ābilis -able

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Learn More about variable

Statistics for variable

Last Updated

9 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for variable

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

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More Definitions for variable

variability

noun

Financial Definition of variability

What It Is

Variability is the degree to which a data series deviates from its mean (or in the accounting world, how much a budgeted value differs from an actual value).

How It Works

For example, let's say Company XYZ stock has the following prices:

The average of these prices is $21.33. To calculate the variance, we see how "far away" each day's stock price is from $21.33, like this:

Notice that some of the differences are negative. Because we're going to calculate the average difference, the negative numbers create a mathematical problem (they'll offset the positive numbers and screw up the calculation). To avoid this, we square each difference so that each difference is positive, like this:

The last step is simply calculating the average of those squared differences, which is $9.42, and then taking the square root of that number to get the amount by which Company XYZ stock tends to vary from its average price.

The square root is $3.07, meaning that when Company XYZ deviates from that $21 average, it tends to do so by about $3.07.

Why It Matters

This is only one way to measure variability. Beta, regression analysis, and many other statistical methods are designed to figure out just how volatile a data series is. Variability is a measure of volatility and thus a measure of risk, because it measures how much something like a stock tends to deviate from its "usual" value. The higher the variability, the more wildly the stock fluctuates when it fluctuates. Accordingly, the higher the variability, the riskier the stock.

Source: Investing Answers

variable

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of variable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: able or likely to change or be changed : not always the same

variable

noun

English Language Learners Definition of variable (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that changes or that can be changed : something that varies
mathematics : a quantity that can have any one of a set of values or a symbol that represents such a quantity

variable

adjective
var·​i·​able | \ ˈver-ē-ə-bəl How to pronounce variable (audio) \

Kids Definition of variable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : able to change : likely to be changed : changeable a variable climate
2 : having differences
3 : different from what is normal or usual

Other Words from variable

variably \ -​blē \ adverb

variable

noun

Kids Definition of variable (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that changes or can be changed
2 : a symbol (as x or *) used in mathematics in the place of a numeral : placeholder

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variable

adjective
vari·​able | \ ˈver-ē-ə-bəl, ˈvar- How to pronounce variable (audio) \

Medical Definition of variable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : able or apt to vary : subject to variation or changes allergy is perhaps the most variable of all diseases— H. G. Rapaport & Shirley Linde
2 : characterized by variations
3 : not true to type : aberrant used of a biological group or character

Other Words from variable

variability \ ˌver-​ē-​ə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē, ˌvar-​ How to pronounce variability (audio) \ noun, plural -ties

variable

noun

Medical Definition of variable (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is variable

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Comments on variable

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