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 Both come standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available as an option, and the Rogue is equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) while the RAV4 uses a eight-speed automatic unit. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "Nissan Dealers Offering 2021 Rogue Shoppers Test Drives in Toyota RAV4," 9 Nov. 2020 Quarterly direct operating expenses related to programming, excluding variable program license fees, fell 13 percent to $122.5 million. Georg Szalai, Billboard, "Univision Networks Ad Revenue Drop Narrows in Third Quarter," 9 Nov. 2020 Now, wolves in the US are protected under a variable patchwork of regulations. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "Gray wolves are leaving the endangered species list. But should they?," 5 Nov. 2020 Not only is the turboprop more efficient than a jet, but its variable pitch provides remarkable low-speed maneuverability in PAR mode. Abe Dane, Popular Mechanics, "The Russian Wingship Future That Never Took Flight," 5 Nov. 2020 The actual worldwide tally of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher, as testing has been variable, many people have had no symptoms and some governments have concealed the true number of cases. Fox News, "Coronavirus cases surge past 40 million infections worldwide," 19 Oct. 2020 These endpoints are subjective, highly variable, and have been associated with significant placebo response rates. Erica Smith, STAT, "The placebo response: a hidden risk to Covid-19 trials," 13 Oct. 2020 What hasn't changed is an eight-speed Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, which has the same upside (fuel economy) and downside (noise) as always. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "2020 Subaru Outback is fan service in the best possible way," 4 Oct. 2020 Like the current model, the next-gen WRX is likely to offer a choice of a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission. Eric Tingwall, Car and Driver, "2022 Subaru WRX Spied on the Street as Production Draws Near," 23 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The only variable that is yet to be solved for is whether the Democratic leadership is willing to actually fight and sacrifice in order to win. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Agenda Is Still Survival," 11 Nov. 2020 Trump himself was an accelerating variable in Georgia's shift, pushing some white suburbanites toward Democrats. Arkansas Online, "Stacey Abrams credited for boosting Democrats in Georgia," 8 Nov. 2020 The key variable appears to be the uniquely unpopular Bevin, who underperformed Trump in all 120 counties and received a share of the vote that was at least 10 points less than the president in all but 10 counties. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "Just a year after Bevin's loss, Trump dominates Kentucky in Republican sweep," 7 Nov. 2020 Game streaming—not Twitch, but the ability to play games in multiple places—is a new variable in this generation of hardware. Eric Ravenscraft, Wired, "So You're Buying a New Console. Does Cloud Gaming Matter?," 4 Nov. 2020 Perhaps the biggest variable on election night would be if Trump can flip states that Clinton won in 2016. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Election Day is in 7 days. Here's when we might know a winner and how each candidate could claim victory," 27 Oct. 2020 The move to online-only tournaments during coronavirus, for example, introduces the variable of latency due to Internet connection speeds. Ethan Davison, Washington Post, "Aim assist in the crosshairs," 16 Oct. 2020 There will be continuity among four of the linemen, but there’s still an unknown variable in the equation. Giana Han, al, "Auburn offensive line takes one step forward, one step back," 28 Oct. 2020 The bank also lowered its estimate for the neutral interest rate -- a key variable that gauges how stimulative the policy rate is. Shelly Hagan, Bloomberg.com, "Bank of Canada Sees Output Gap Persisting Until 2023," 28 Oct. 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

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for variable

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

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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