var·​i·​a·​tion | \ ˌver-ē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce variation (audio) \

Definition of variation

1a : the act or process of varying : the state or fact of being varied
b : an instance of varying
c : the extent to which or the range in which a thing varies
3a : a change of algebraic sign between successive terms of a sequence
b : a measure of the change in data, a variable, or a function
4 : the repetition of a musical theme with modifications in such elements as rhythm, melody, harmony, key, tempo, and accompaniment
5a : divergence in the structural or functional characteristics of an organism from the species or population norm or average
b : something (such as an individual or group) that exhibits variation
6a : a solo dance in classic ballet
b : a repetition in modern ballet of a movement sequence with changes

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Other Words from variation

variational \ ˌver-​ē-​ˈā-​shnəl How to pronounce variation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
variationally adverb

Synonyms for variation


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Examples of variation in a Sentence

the movie begins with a somewhat irreverent variation on the Nativity story the latest in a long line of variations in her hair color
Recent Examples on the Web Such effects would be barely detectable given the normal variation in global temperatures and other climate phenomena, and the effect of the CLC carbon tax would be smaller still. Benjamin Zycher, National Review, 16 Aug. 2021 Intersections between race and gender most likely lead to variation and nuance in the ways in which black men and women experience discrimination, and the negative consequences of it. New York Times, 9 Aug. 2021 According to Windham, this variation in symptoms and appearance suggests that there are multiple causes of rose canker. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Aug. 2021 And that’s even though Canberra has little variation in its soil. Anil Oza, Science | AAAS, 6 Aug. 2021 With a complete genome finally assembled, the researchers could take a better look at the variation in DNA from one person to the next. Carl Zimmer New York Times, Star Tribune, 24 July 2021 However, given the variation in vaccination levels from state to state and even community to community, its effects have varied widely. Arielle Mitropoulos, ABC News, 16 July 2021 Greater variation in the economy will disproportionately hurt those industries which tend to be more volatile. Bill Conerly, Forbes, 29 June 2021 To receive a work badge granting access to restricted areas, airport workers must pass periodic criminal background checks, but there’s wide variation in how and even whether employees are screened before work. Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 24 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'variation.' 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 variation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for variation

Middle English variacioun, borrowed from Anglo-French variacion "variance, discrepancy," borrowed from Latin variātiōn-, variātiō "diversification, divergence," from variāre "to make changeable, vary" + -tiōn- -tiō, suffix of deverbal nouns

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Time Traveler for variation

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The first known use of variation was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Variation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for variation



English Language Learners Definition of variation

: a change in the form, position, condition, or amount of something
: something that is similar to something else but different in some way
: a repeated version of a short piece of music with changes in its rhythm, tune, or harmony


var·​i·​a·​tion | \ ˌver-ē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce variation (audio) \

Kids Definition of variation

1 : a change in form, position, or condition Our routine could use some variation.
2 : amount of change or difference Scientists record the variations in temperature.
3 : departure from what is usual to a group The poodle's offspring show no variation from the breed.


var·​i·​a·​tion | \ ˌver-ē-ˈā-shən, ˌvar- How to pronounce variation (audio) \

Medical Definition of variation

1 : divergence in one or more characteristics of an organism or biotype from those typical of or usual for its group
2 : something (as an individual or group) that exhibits variation

Other Words from variation

variational \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce variation (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on variation

Nglish: Translation of variation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of variation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about variation


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