variable

1 of 2

adjective

var·​i·​able ˈver-ē-ə-bəl How to pronounce variable (audio)
1
a
: able or apt to vary : subject to variation or changes
variable winds
variable costs
2
: characterized by variations
3
: having the characteristics of a variable
4
: not true to type : aberrant
used of a biological group or character
variability noun
variableness noun
variably adverb

variable

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a quantity that may assume any one of a set of values
b
: a symbol representing a variable
2
a
: something that is variable
b
: a factor in a scientific experiment that may be subject to change
3

Examples of variable in a Sentence

Adjective The winds were light and variable. The loan has a variable interest rate. Noun unemployment and other economic variables
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
This e-scooter performs well in variable weather, too. Kevin Brouillard, Travel + Leisure, 9 Feb. 2024 There’s much more to like under the hood, too, such as a Mini LED panel capable of 2,000-nit peak brightness, 2,300 local dimming zones, and a 120Hz variable refresh rate for gaming. Quentyn Kennemer, The Verge, 9 Feb. 2024 In 2013, Samoa Air became one of the first airlines to weigh passengers and — controversially — charge a variable kilogram-per-mile rate based on whatever the scale had to say. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 All models support variable refresh rates up to 120Hz, have a peak brightness of 2,600 nits, and offer an always-on option. Iyaz Akhtar, PCMAG, 6 Feb. 2024 Energy-efficient features include tank-less water heaters and a high efficiency, variable speed furnace with zone controls for maximum comfort, professional home theater, wet bar with professional appliances and wine cellar, and a suspended garage, storm shelter and safe room. Kansas City Star, 25 Jan. 2024 The variable refresh rate on XPS laptops doesn't appear to have any formal certifications from VESA, Nvidia, or AMD. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2024 Southern California has an even more variable climate than Northern California, even without the current El Niño event in place, which is also contributing heavily to the excessive moisture in recent weeks. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 5 Feb. 2024 The model inferred that, though variable, the most likely social organization of primate ancestors was pair-living. Margherita Bassi, Discover Magazine, 30 Jan. 2024
Noun
One variable that's often forgotten, which needs to be embedded in business strategy, is diversity. Julie Kratz, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 Looking forward, a range of market analysts are making the case that a crucial variable in broad productivity improvement thus far has been an unemployment rate near record lows. Talmon Joseph Smith, New York Times, 14 Feb. 2024 The effects of supplements vary from person to person and depend on many variables, including type, dosage, frequency of use, and interactions with current medications. Ella Quittner, Health, 9 Feb. 2024 The ability of psychographics — which classify people based on psychological variables such as attitudes, values or fears — to gauge even more than your gender, race, marital status, etc. is wild. Jessica Dulong, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 So began one of the most inscrutable decisions in Olympics history as the gold went to Devitt, setting off years of protests and appeals by U.S. swimming officials and helping accelerate the introduction of electronic timing to remove the potential variables of human fallibility. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2024 In the nearby cosmos, scientists measure distances using stars called Cepheid variables that periodically change in brightness. Quanta Magazine, 19 Jan. 2024 California storm live updates: Life-threatening flooding pummels Southern California There are many variables involved when linking atmospheric river events to climate change, and this year another major variable is El Niño. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 5 Feb. 2024 The San Gabriel, San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains might see a heavy deluge of snow, but there are still many variables at play. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Late Latin variābilis "changeable," from Latin variāre "to make changeable, vary" + -ābilis -able

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Noun

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near variable

Cite this Entry

“Variable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/variable. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

variable

1 of 2 adjective
vari·​able
ˈver-ē-ə-bəl,
ˈvar-
1
: able to change : likely to be changed
variable winds
2
: having the characteristics of a variable
3
: not true to the usual or normal type
a variable species of wheat
variability noun
variableness
ˈver-ē-ə-bəl-nəs
ˈvar-
noun
variably
-blē
adverb

variable

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: a quantity that may take on any one of a set of values
b
: a mathematical symbol representing a variable
2
: something that is variable
3
: a factor in a scientific experiment that may be subject to change
controlled all variables except temperature

Medical Definition

variable

1 of 2 adjective
1
: able or apt to vary : subject to variation or changes
allergy is perhaps the most variable of all diseasesH. G. Rapaport & Shirley Linde
2
: characterized by variations
3
: not true to type : aberrant
used of a biological group or character
variability noun
plural variabilities

variable

2 of 2 noun
: something that is variable

More from Merriam-Webster on variable

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