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 To better define the underlying pathology could still take months, and may be variable in patients, no matter their age. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, "The mystery of why the coronavirus kills some young people," 5 Apr. 2020 To see how variable annuities work, consider the one United Technologies Corp. offers in its 401(k) plan. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "How to Turn Your Nest Egg Into Steady Payments," 30 Jan. 2020 Optional benefits are available for an extra charge in addition to the ongoing fees and expenses of the variable annuity. USA TODAY, "You can’t always get what you want in retirement. But is it possible to get what you need?," 20 June 2019 The midsize crossover debuts Infiniti’s new platform and evolutionary variable compression ratio engine dubbed the VC Turbo. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "Wild sports cars and so many crossovers jump-start the 2019 model year," 7 Dec. 2017 More Upcoming Hyundais The standard powertrain on the 2020 Elantra is a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-four paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2021 Hyundai Elantra Will Add a Sporty N Line Model," 28 Apr. 2020 The timing is extremely variable, said Dr. Robert Silver, M.D., professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah. Annie Sneed, New York Times, "Morning Sickness During Pregnancy: What to Do and How to Cope," 17 Apr. 2020 Without the promotion, the rate, which is variable, is 2.43%. Janna Herron, USA TODAY, "Betterment jumps into savings war with 2.69% APY. Checking is next.," 23 July 2019 The variable weather conditions have had something to do with it, especially the skim ice along the shorelines, but most launch ramps are open and the lakes offer fair to good fishing. cleveland, "Small waters ripe for anglers: Fishing Report for March 6," 6 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The percentage range occurred because various adjustments were made based on race, demographics and other variables. Peter Fimrite, SFChronicle.com, "Stanford study suggests far more infections in Santa Clara County than reported," 17 Apr. 2020 Their data added information about temperature and density gradients, while also factoring in other variables such as the gravity of nearby moons, reports Jennifer Leman for Popular Mechanics. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Buffer Zone Around Saturn May Have Kept It From Swallowing Its Biggest Moon," 11 Mar. 2020 Add to that other variables: because of baggage fees, people are bringing more bags on board. Washington Post, "First-of-their-kind tests are aimed at setting new standards for airplane seats," 28 Nov. 2019 Maybe, although other complex variables also affect those hormone levels. David Quammen, National Geographic, "‘I am scared all the time’: Chimps and people are clashing in rural Uganda," 8 Nov. 2019 After controlling for population and other variables, the authors estimated that Medicaid expansion was associated with 1.16 fewer evictions per 1,000 households per year (ie, a cut of around 7% in the eviction rate). The Economist, "How Medicaid reduces evictions," 21 Oct. 2019 More recent research that controlled for diet and other lifestyle variables concluded that drinking moderate amounts of beer—usually defined as one per day for women and two for men—offers the same heart-health benefits as a like amount of wine. Markham Heid, Time, "Is Wine Really Healthier Than Beer?," 27 Sep. 2019 The analysis from data measurement company Nielsen crunched numbers on music sales, streaming service usage and other relevant variables across the first six months of 2019. Randall Roberts, latimes.com, "The winners in Nielsen's music report? Billie Eilish, streaming, rap and ... Michael Jackson," 28 June 2019 Researchers injected their simulated environment with changes to gravity, hand angle and other variables so the software learns to operate in a way that is adaptable. Ryan Nakashima, The Seattle Times, "A robotic hand can juggle a cube _ with lots of training," 31 July 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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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

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Variable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/variable. Accessed 30 May. 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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