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

During Saturday, early-morning clouds and some areas of fog will give way to variable clouds and very humid conditions with the dew point in the low to mid-70s. courant.com, "Variable clouds and very humid," 5 July 2019 An electronically variable intake manifold helps as well. Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "Chevy adds new 460 lb.-ft. Duramax to 2020 Silverado 1500 lineup," 2 July 2019 That's how flexible, variable, and contextual our morality is. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "I Am Mother envisions a dark future world where AI is almost human," 13 June 2019 Unfortunately, the onset of the first period after a miscarriage can be variable and unpredictable, happening anywhere from four to eight weeks after the miscarriage is completed. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "How Long After a Miscarriage Can I Start Trying Again?," 1 Oct. 2018 In Masopust’s version, for example, each group of lab mice gets a different cocktail of pathogens. That’s both a curse and a blessing, Masopust says, because humans are variable, too. Cassandra Willyard, Scientific American, "Squeaky Clean Mice Could be Ruining Research," 9 Apr. 2018 After the introductory period, the APR will increase to a variable 15.24% to 26.24%. Caroline Lupini, USA TODAY, "The best credit cards with no annual fee of 2019," 26 June 2019 To maintain three-lanes of traffic, the left side shoulder is being used as a travel lane with a variable speed limit in place. Sheila Vilvens, Cincinnati.com, "Repairs to begin, weather permitting, on I-275 sliding slope in Clermont County," 25 June 2019 The damage caused by alcohol is highly variable from one pregnancy to the next. Anchorage Daily News, "‘He looks so normal’: When it comes to FASDs, there’s no such thing as predictability," 24 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the intervals have been highly variable — ranging from 44 years to 305 years. Tim Arango, BostonGlobe.com, "Powerful quake and waves of aftershocks rattle Southern California," 4 July 2019 But the intervals have been highly variable — ranging from 44 years to 305 years. Tim Arango, New York Times, "6.4-Magnitude Earthquake and Swarm of Aftershocks Rattle Southern California," 4 July 2019 Why this matters: Nvidia and AMD approach variable refresh rate technology very differently. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "This clever trick gets AMD FreeSync running on an Nvidia GeForce graphics card," 27 Aug. 2018 The study speculates that this unmeasured variable — non-leisure time exercise — may be why New York ranks so low. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "A Shocking Percentage of Americans Don't Exercise Enough, CDC Says," 28 June 2018 The advantage of skipping the NBA summer leagues is having more options overseas to pick a suitable situation based on variables like contractual terms, a club’s financial stability, an English-speaking coach and location. Mark Zeigler, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SDSU's Pope headed to Lakers for summer, Kell likely to go overseas," 27 June 2018 And each of these variables is, well, highly variable. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "All The Places Tiangong-1 Won’t Land (And Where It Still Might)," 30 Mar. 2018 At age two, Katalina was diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency (CVID), an antibody deficiency that leaves her susceptible to a host of infections. Janice Steinhagen, Courant Community, "Moosup Girl Is Tiny Miss Connecticut," 20 Mar. 2018 That, however, ignores yet another variable: the 30% of Italian voters who remain undecided. The Economist, "The jokers in the packThe tiny new party that may hold the key to Italy’s election," 21 Feb. 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

13 Jul 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 variabilities

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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