noun var·i·ance \ˈver-ē-ən(t)s\

Definition of variance

  1. 1 :  the fact, quality, or state of being variable or variant :  difference, variation <yearly variance in crops>

  2. 2 :  the fact or state of being in disagreement :  dissension, dispute

  3. 3 :  a disagreement between two parts of the same legal proceeding that must be consonant

  4. 4 :  a license to do some act contrary to the usual rule <a zoning variance>

  5. 5 :  the square of the standard deviation

at variance

  1. :  not in harmony or agreement

Examples of variance in a sentence

  1. There was some variance in the results.

  2. We noticed a slight variance between the quality of the samples.

  3. He had to get a variance to add a garage on to his house.

Origin and Etymology of variance

Middle English variaunce “change, variety, discrepancy,” borrowed from Anglo-French variance, borrowed from Latin variantia, “diversity, variety,” from variant-, varians 1variant + -ia 1-ia

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of variance

discord, strife, conflict, contention, dissension, variance mean a state or condition marked by a lack of agreement or harmony. discord implies an intrinsic or essential lack of harmony producing quarreling, factiousness, or antagonism <a political party long racked by discord>. strife emphasizes a struggle for superiority rather than the incongruity or incompatibility of the persons or things involved <during his brief reign the empire was never free of civil strife>. conflict usually stresses the action of forces in opposition but in static applications implies an irreconcilability as of duties or desires <the conflict of freedom and responsibility>. contention applies to strife or competition that shows itself in quarreling, disputing, or controversy <several points of contention about the new zoning law>. dissension implies strife or discord and stresses a division into factions <religious dissension threatened to split the colony>. variance implies a clash between persons or things owing to a difference in nature, opinion, or interest <cultural variances that work against a national identity>.

VARIANCE Defined for English Language Learners


noun var·i·ance \ˈver-ē-ən(t)s\

Definition of variance for English Language Learners

  • : an amount of difference or change

  • law : an official decision or document that allows someone to do something that is not usually allowed by the rules

Law Dictionary


noun var·i·ance \ˈver-ē-əns\

Legal Definition of variance

  1. 1 :  a disagreement between two documents or positions; especially :  a disagreement between allegations (as in an indictment or complaint) and proof offered at trial that warrants an appropriate remedy (as a directed verdict or an acquittal) when prejudicial to the substantial rights of the defendant

  2. 2 :  an authorization to do something contrary to the usual restriction <a variance granted by a state agency>; especially :  permission for a use of real property that is prohibited by a zoning ordinance — see also unnecessary hardship — compare spot zoning

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