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

Example Sentences

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
Pay down debts sooner, particularly those with variable interest rates, to save money. cleveland, 10 July 2022 So those scores tend to still be a lot more variable. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2022 The rate on a money market account is variable, and there may be a minimum balance requirement to earn the rate. Nicole Dieker, Fortune, 28 Sep. 2022 Their vocalizations were more variable, yet had a more limited repertoire of sounds. Susan Pinker, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 The precipitation was variable: Rain totals in Anchorage varied from roughly a quarter inch to nearly an inch during the 48 hours leading up to Friday afternoon. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Sep. 2022 The composition of the garden is variable and will evolve through the seasons. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, 7 Sep. 2022 Credit card rates are variable and Fed rate hikes tend to be passed along to credit cardholders within a month or two. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 11 Aug. 2022 Devices with an eight rating are certified to go a few meters deeper than those with a seven rating, although the increase in depth is variable. Wired, 2 Aug. 2022
Noun
The most critical variable, however, might be what Enfield is able to get out of two four-star freshman guards, both of whom are expected to play major roles early on. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2022 The biggest variable could be former Brookfield Central star David Joplin, who has a sweet stroke and the unshakable confidence to put up shots but was just 17 for 59 (28.8%) from deep as a freshman. Ben Steele, Journal Sentinel, 8 Oct. 2022 Happiness, which takes into account air-quality, crime rates, and overall well-being, was the second-biggest variable at 22%. Alena Botros, Fortune, 1 Nov. 2022 While power sourcing for offices can have a huge impact, employee travel is usually the single biggest variable in determining a studio’s carbon footprint. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, 4 Sep. 2022 While the manager would like an applicant that checks all the boxes on the job description, there is another important variable. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 8 Aug. 2022 Simon will be back and ... be another variable in the mix. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, 17 July 2022 It’s the numerator — offense — that is the variable in the San Diego State basketball equation. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Jan. 2022 One variable that seems to be affecting schedule debates this week has been the potential expansion of the College Football Playoff, or as ESPN reported last month, the SEC staging its own multi-week playoff in December. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, 2 June 2022 See More

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

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 29 Nov. 2022.

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 diseases H. 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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