variable

adjective
var·i·able | \ˈver-ē-ə-bəl \

Definition of variable 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : able or apt to vary : subject to variation or changes variable winds variable costs

b : fickle, inconstant

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 \ noun
variableness \ˈver-ē-ə-bəl-nəs \ noun
variably \-blē \ 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

Most people investing in variable annuities do so for appreciation potential, not protection. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Should you buy an annuity? 4 tips to consider," 24 June 2018 Tech companies have armies of behavioral researchers whose sole job is to apply principles like Skinner’s variable rewards to grab and hold our focus as often and long as possible. William Wan, Washington Post, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction — with an app," 17 June 2018 Tech companies have armies of behavioral researchers whose sole job is to apply principles like Skinner's variable rewards to grab and hold our focus as often and long as possible. William Wan, Houston Chronicle, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction - with an app," 17 June 2018 However, many caregivers have devised their own systems as variable as using shot glasses or daily manilla envelopes. Paul Sisson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Quick study: Managing meds, diabetes and breathing devices," 24 Apr. 2018 Borrowers may be able to choose between a variable or fixed rate and determine a repayment option that works for them. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, "Should a Parent or Student Take Out the College Loan?," 8 July 2018 The Original Rainbow Donuts Rainbow Donuts are both abundant and highly variable in the Valley. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "10 best donuts in Phoenix: I tried 400, sorry Dunkin' Donuts, you didn't make the cut," 30 May 2018 Power from the engine and electric motor are distributed to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission, which was smooth throughout its range. G. Chambers Williams Iii, Houston Chronicle, "COMPACT," 13 July 2018 But on-and-off power is what’s needed to flexibly complement variable renewable energy. David Roberts, Vox, "The US is rapidly losing nuclear power. That’s profoundly concerning for climate change.," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The study authors knew that plenty of other variables could influence both mental health and fruit and vegetable consumption. Amanda Macmillan, Health.com, "These 10 Fruits and Veggies Are Linked to Better Mental Health—Especially If You Eat Them Raw," 17 Apr. 2018 Using live animals in this sort of study would introduce a host of other variables that would be difficult to control, Bulté says. Matt Warren, Science | AAAS, "Here’s what happens when you replace toads and turtles with 3D-printed replicas in the wild," 17 Apr. 2018 The operation kept shifting with each variable: the water, the air, the mud, even the mental and physical state of the young soccer players. Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock And Muktita Suhartono, New York Times, "‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: The Story of the Thailand Cave Rescue," 12 July 2018 The cost of the transfer is off €31 million with €9 million in variables. SI.com, "Barcelona Complete €30m Signing of Brazilian Ace Arthur From Gremio on 6-Year Deal," 9 July 2018 Whether an investor is a millennial looking to ditch their roommate, or a retiree making sure all of their ducks are in a row, there seems to be one constant variable: the tendency to include one’s home in their investment portfolio. Eduardo Gruener, miamiherald, "No, your house is not an investment," 9 July 2018 Seeking to diagnose sepsis more rapidly, the chain of 11 hospitals also launched a system last month to analyze more than 100 variables in patients’ electronic medical records to predict which patients are most vulnerable to sepsis. Karen Weintraub, STAT, "Sepsis is the third leading cause of death. Can a new blood test change that?," 3 July 2018 Primarily, this is due to the number of variables used by Google’s AI. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "New Google AI Calculates the Odds You'll Survive a Hospital Stay," 19 June 2018 Although his theory was more testable than others, 16 variables made for a complicated analysis. Lacy Schley, Discover Magazine, "Personality," 15 June 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

5 Oct 2018

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 \

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- \

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- \ 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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