1 of 2


var·​i·​ant ˈver-ē-ənt How to pronounce variant (audio)
: manifesting variety, deviation, or disagreement
variant interpretations/opinions
: varying usually slightly from a usual or standard form
variant readings
variant spellings
variant forms of a disease
a variant bacterial strain
obsolete : variable


2 of 2


plural variants
: one of two or more persons or things of the same kind that differ in some way from one another: such as
: someone or something that exhibits variation from a type or norm
Scientists now find that a variant of a specific gene may contribute to the disorder …B. Bower
Ambient music, as it is sometimes called, was originally a variant of techno music without the beats.Neil Strauss
We played all kinds of weird and wacky poker variants, many involving wild cards …Anthony Holden
: one of two or more different spellings (such as labor and labour) or pronunciations (as of economics \ek-, ēk-\) of the same word
: one of two or more words (such as geographic and geographical) or word elements (such as mon- and mono-) of essentially the same meaning differing only in the presence or absence of an affix

Examples of variant in a Sentence

Adjective variant strains of a disease Noun A new variant of the disease has appeared.
Recent Examples on the Web
The final appearance of a Delta rocket 63 years after the first variant's maiden flight was an emotional milestone for the managers, engineers and technicians who assembled and launched the last member of the family. William Harwood, CBS News, 9 Apr. 2024 Carb Blockers Prescription variants of these medications are not intended for use as weight-loss aids; rather, their purpose is to hinder the absorption of starches as a means of treating diabetes. Robert James and, Miami Herald, 8 Apr. 2024 The variant is named after the 300 SLR that Stirling Moss drove to victory at the Mille Miglia in 1955 and features a slew of performance upgrades. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 8 Apr. 2024 In the alert, the CDC said that a variant of the bacteria that causes the illness has reported 140 cases this year so far. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 The fear is that this imprinting then undermines efforts to protect an individual against evolved versions of that pathogen — that a vaccine targeting the latest variant of SARS-2 will preferentially boost antibodies to the original version of the virus, which is now long gone. Helen Branswell, STAT, 28 Mar. 2024 Oberon Sunshine will come in three variants: Cherry Limeade Shandy, Lemonade Shandy and Tropical Shandy, to be released in 12-packs later this summer. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, 25 Mar. 2024 The tracks were previously included on different variants of the Guts vinyl record. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2024 Each variant comes with a single-motor powertrain that will produce 299 hp and 295 ft lbs of torque in the standard and Pro and 673 hp and 618 ft lbs of torque in the Max. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 29 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'variant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English variaunt, borrowed from Anglo-French variant, borrowed from Latin variant-, varians "variegated, various," from present participle of variāre "to make changeable, vary"


noun derivative of variant entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1849, in the meaning defined at sense b

Time Traveler
The first known use of variant was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near variant

Cite this Entry

“Variant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: differing from others of its kind or class


2 of 2 noun
: an individual that shows variation from a type or norm
: one of two or more different spellings or pronunciations of the same word

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
var·​i·​ant ˈver-ē-ənt, ˈvar- How to pronounce variant (audio)
: manifesting variety or deviation : varying usually slightly from a usual or standard form
variant forms of the disease
mutations resulting in a variant strain of the bacteria


2 of 2 noun
: one that exhibits variation from a type, norm, or wild type : mutation
a less contagious variant of the virus
To date, nearly 60 genes have been evaluated to determine whether specific genetic variants may be associated with IBS [=irritable bowel syndrome].Yuri A. Saito, Gastroenterology Clinics of North America
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