adj. & n.
adj. 1 a of, exhibiting, or depending on a difference. b varying according to circumstances. 2 Math. relating to infinitesimal differences. 3 constituting a specific difference; distinctive; relating to specific differences (differential diagnosis). 4 Physics & Mech. concerning the difference of two or more motions, pressures, etc.
n. 1 a difference between individuals or examples of the same kind. 2 Brit. a difference in wage or salary between industries or categories of employees in the same industry. 3 a difference between rates of interest etc. 4 Math. a an infinitesimal difference between successive values of a variable. b a function expressing this as a rate of change with respect to another variable. 5 (in full differential gear) a gear allowing a vehicle's driven wheels to revolve at different speeds in cornering. differential calculus Math. a method of calculating rates of change, maximum or minimum values, etc. (cf. INTEGRAL). differential coefficient Math. = DERIVATIVE. differential equation Math. an equation involving differentials among its quantities. differentially adv.
[ med. & mod.L differentialis (as DIFFERENCE) ]