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

The hybrid system combines a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two motor-generators and a continuously variable automatic transmission. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE: A versatile 52 mpg," 30 Aug. 2019 Scallop populations are variable, and wildlife experts are hopeful that the mollusks could bounce back naturally in Florida. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Volunteer “Scallop Sitters” Are Working to Restore Florida’s Dwindling Scallop Population," 28 Aug. 2019 The illness, however, was highly variable; most patients did not express all stages of the disease or sometimes the stages merged. Allen Steere, BostonGlobe.com, "Lyme disease: How we discovered it and where we go from here," 22 Aug. 2019 Both mate to a continuously variable automatic transmission, although the turbo's transmission is designed to handle its extra torque and is more rewarding when pushed hard. Larry Printz, Dallas News, "The 2020 Subaru Outback is a family hauling staple, even after six generations," 10 Aug. 2019 Virginia has been a leader in using variable rate tolls to manage traffic flow on the Beltway and Interstate 66 during rush hour. Maria Torres, Los Angeles Times, "Anaheim native Jose Rojas won’t be called up by Angels despite impressive season," 3 Sep. 2019 Litvak specializes in operations management, a branch of applied mathematics that uses statistical techniques to efficiently match resources with variable demand. Clayton Dalton, Quartz, "To solve hospital overcrowding, think like a mathematician," 29 Aug. 2019 There is a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms Wenesday evening, when lightning could spark fires and cause breezy, variable wind conditions. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Thousands of Burning Man fans are in the middle of Nevada desert with a huge fire threat," 28 Aug. 2019 There is a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms Wenesday evening, when lightning could spark fires and cause breezy, variable wind conditions. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "Thousands of Burning Man fans are in the middle of a desert with a huge fire threat," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, the one variable the team has been able to control — winning — is making things a little clearer as the final four weeks begin to unfold. Mark Faller, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks have a friend in their schedule in wild-card race," 3 Sep. 2019 The big variable is that changes in fire behavior can dramatically change how much smoke is being sent into the air. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Wildfire smoke drifts back into Anchorage area," 26 Aug. 2019 One major variable is who is allowed to fill out these medical exemption forms (or write medical exemption statements) to replace the proof of immunization that’s usually required for school or day-care entry. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Actually Counts as a Medical Exemption for Vaccines—and What's at Stake When They're Abused," 26 Aug. 2019 So many variables are at stake if Diaz looks like his normal, dominating self. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "Predictions, Unanswered Questions and Storylines for UFC 241," 16 Aug. 2019 The scientists then extrapolated across the globe to find where environment variables were likely to support populations of the animals—and how that will change with global warming. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "Raccoons are spreading across Earth—and climate change could help," 29 July 2019 Once it had been added, neither the poverty nor the employment nor the high-school-completion variable was significant. Robert Cherry, National Review, "The Case for More Occupational Training," 25 July 2019 But one variable that’s too often lost amid public hand wringing over test scores and new standards is arguably the most vital: the fallible humans charged with imparting an appetite and appreciation for learning. Quanta Magazine, "The Art of Teaching Math and Science," 16 June 2019 The variables are complex and the stakes shift daily. Lauren Silva Laughlin, WSJ, "Farmer’s Almanac Can’t Help Agribusiness," 5 June 2019

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

21 Sep 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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