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 \ ˈver-​ē-​ə-​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 By carefully monitoring the engine's operating parameters and the changing atmospheric conditions, the turbocharger's variable waste gate enables up to 4.0 pounds of boost to maintain 165 horsepower from sea level all the way up to 8000 feet. David Beard, Car and Driver, "2020 Ski-Doo Summit 850 Turbo Finds Higher Ground," 14 Feb. 2020 The answer to that, at least for now, is as variable as the weather. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ireland reach RWC quarterfinals with 45-7 win over Samoa," 12 Oct. 2019 The National Weather Service expects Portland to see a high near 68, several degrees below our normal high this time of year, and light and variable winds. oregonlive, "Portland metro Monday weather: First day of fall brings sun, moderate temps," 23 Sep. 2019 Sunday’s weather calls for a high of 93 degrees and a low of 64 degrees with light and variable wind in the evening, according to the National Weather Service. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Denver weather: High heat, dry conditions expected Sunday and Monday," 18 Aug. 2019 But in the second experiment, males released from distances of more than 130 feet away had trouble tracking the females, likely due to the interference of weak, variable winds. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Male Black Widow Spiders Find Potential Mates by Following Other Suitors’ Trails," 2 Aug. 2019 The gasoline engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid powertrain is backed by a dual-motor eFlite electrically variable transmission. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2021 Chrysler Pacifica Finally Gets an All-Wheel-Drive Model," 6 Feb. 2020 The offer was amended by council to include the variable time window rather than a set number of years. Max Londberg, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati City Council approves new tax deal with CPS, agreeing to school board's request," 6 Feb. 2020 Lamping also announced the Jaguars will be introducing a variable pricing plan, in which games against marquee opponents will be priced slightly higher. John Reid, USA TODAY, "Jacksonville Jaguars will play back-to-back games in London in 2020 NFL season," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To top it off, vacations in general present even more variables than home life. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "My Partner and I Never Have Sex on Trips Anymore," 14 Feb. 2020 The stat tries to distill ballpark factors and other variables out to get a number relative to a league average of 100. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "Rougned Odor may be the single most important player at Rangers spring training — for better or for worse," 14 Feb. 2020 Our regression analysis – a statistical method that examines the relationship between multiple variables – shows that counties that were switching from voting for Democrat to Republican presidents became more likely to contract with ICE. Emily Ryo, The Conversation, "Hundreds of county jails detained immigrants for ICE," 11 Feb. 2020 Report card scores reflect many more variables than just superintendent pay. al, "Alabama school superintendent salaries rising statewide," 8 Feb. 2020 No matter how good the performance seems in an app, variables invariably pop up. Popular Science, "The Iowa caucus app never had a chance," 5 Feb. 2020 Currently, each property falls into one of four categories, and the city’s Finance Department uses the category and other variables to determine the final bill. Katie Honan, WSJ, "New York City Proposes Property-Tax Overhaul, but Details Are Lacking," 4 Feb. 2020 The addition of nutrients or oxygen-poor waters may subtly influence which species dominate in aquatic communities, or perhaps even increase the total species diversity by creating variable habitats within the river, some researchers suggest. National Geographic, "Could Pablo Escobar's escaped hippos help the environment?," 31 Jan. 2020 Other variables include sleep, stress, activity levels, exposure to environmental pathogens—all of which generally change over time. Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel, Scientific American, "Is Red Meat Killing Us or Making Us Stronger?," 29 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for variable

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for variable

Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Variable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/variable. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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
How to pronounce variable (audio)

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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