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.

Recent Examples of variance from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'variance'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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

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



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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a severe test

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