# differential

dif·​fer·​en·​tial | \ ˌdi-fə-ˈren(t)-shəl \

## Definition of differential

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or constituting a difference : distinguishing differential characteristics
b : making a distinction between individuals or classes differential tax rates
c : based on or resulting from a differential
d : functioning or proceeding differently or at a different rate differential melting
2 mathematics : being, relating to, or involving a differential (see differential entry 2 sense 1) or differentiation
3 physics
a : relating to quantitative differences (as of motion or pressure)
b : producing effects by reason of quantitative differences

differential

Definition of differential (Entry 2 of 2)

1 mathematics
a : the product (see product sense 1) of the derivative of a function of one variable by the increment of the independent variable
b : a sum of products in which each product consists of a partial derivative of a given function of several variables multiplied by the corresponding increment and which contains as many products as there are independent variables in the function
2 : a difference between comparable individuals or classes a price differential also : the amount of such a difference
3a : a drivetrain gear assembly connecting two collinear shafts or axles (such as those of the rear wheels of an automobile) and permitting one shaft to revolve faster than the other a locking rear differential
b : a case covering such an assembly

## Examples of differential in a Sentence

Adjective did away with differential pay scales for men and women doing the same work

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

## First Known Use of differential

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

## History and Etymology for differential

borrowed from Medieval Latin differentiālis, from Latin differentia difference entry 1 + -ālis -al entry 1

Noun

noun derivative of differential entry 1

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Time Traveler for differential

## The first known use of differential was in 1615

See more words from the same year

differential

## Statistics for differential

Last Updated

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Differential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differential. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for differential

differential

## English Language Learners Definition of differential

(Entry 1 of 2)

: relating to or based on a difference : treating some people or groups differently from others

differential

noun

English Language Learners Definition of differential (Entry 2 of 2)

: a difference between people or things
: a gear or an arrangement of gears in a vehicle that allows one wheel to turn faster than another when the vehicle is going around a curve

differential

dif·​fer·​en·​tial | \ ˌdif-ə-ˈren-chəl \

## Medical Definition of differential

1 : of, relating to, or constituting a difference differential birth rates in different economic levels
2 : making a distinction between individuals or classes differential cell counts differential staining

Other Words from differential

More from Merriam-Webster on differential

Britannica English: Translation of differential for Arabic Speakers

#### debilitating

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