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

But what does that mean in a country where medical prices are so variable? Jonel Aleccia, The Seattle Times, "State laws ban surprise medical bills. A Washington woman got one for $227,000 — and fought back.," 30 Mar. 2019 The Hyundai Elantra sedan is getting a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) for 2020, according to the EPA. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Hyundai Elantra Drops Its Manual Transmission and Gets a CVT for Better MPG," 14 May 2019 Investment bankers are set to receive slightly more than half the total bonus pool, with variable compensation including awards for new hires equal to 1.42 billion euros. Bloomberg.com, "Bonus Drought Over as Deutsche Bank Seeks to Retain Talent," 16 Mar. 2018 This one may be the most highly variable depending on the individual. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Exactly How Often You Really Need to See Different Kinds of Doctors," 17 Jan. 2019 Their best attempt came with variable valve timing (VVT), which could change its timing on the fly, bringing car engines a little closer to having the best of all worlds. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "This Breakthrough Digital Valvetrain Is Brain Surgery for Car Engines," 6 Nov. 2018 Here’s a factoid for techies: instead of engine oil pressure, an electric motor now handles the variable valve timing on the exhaust side. Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "2019 Toyota Corolla five-door brings latest safety tech to the masses," 26 May 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the draft also is not conducted in a vacuum, especially when there are so many variables in the Heat's future. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Heat No. 13 NBA Mock 3.0: Setting the scenarios, if it’s not about best player available," 12 June 2019 There were so many variables in the ultimate success of D-day, not the least of which was the weather. Catharine Hamm, latimes.com, "Escapes: On D-day, we remember the man who bore the weight of the world," 6 June 2019 Of course, there are many other variables beyond just getting to Mars that make for a successful mission. Ben Pearson, Ars Technica, "SpaceX beginning to tackle some of the big challenges for a Mars journey," 3 June 2019 Human trials will be hard to conduct, and a cell is a fiendishly complicated environment with many variables to keep track of: experiments in manipulating the bioelectric field have revealed that there are still many gaps to be plugged. Sally Adee, Quartz, "Our bodies are full of electricity that could help us fight cancer," 30 May 2019 Weather and course conditions are constant variables. Melissa Murphy, The Seattle Times, "Mikaela in Manhattan: Shiffrin scripts marvelous ski season," 24 Mar. 2019 Access to connectivity and an ability to transport our teachers within the district are variables in the quality of our education system. miamiherald, "Influencers set their priorities for Florida, Floridians," 18 June 2018 There are many variables in an earthquake — magnitude, duration, direction, soil type and so on — and the impact on specific buildings can vary, too. John Wilkens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Back story: Shoring up old masonry buildings for earthquakes," 13 May 2018 One variable, however, is consistently important: campaign contributions. Matthew Green, Vox, "Election Day is over. Now who will lead Congress?," 12 Nov. 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

15 Jun 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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