Meaning of DIFFERENCE in English


dif ‧ fe ‧ rence S1 W1 /ˈdɪf ə rəns/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: verb : ↑ differ , ↑ differentiate ; noun : ↑ difference , ↑ differentiation ; adverb : ↑ differently ; adjective : ↑ different ]

1 . [uncountable and countable] a way in which two or more people or things are not like each other OPP similarity

difference between

There’s a big difference between knowing that something is true, and being able to prove it.

There is very little difference between the parties on green issues.

Do children know the difference between right and wrong?

difference in

Researchers found a number of important differences in the way boys and girls learn.

There’s a world of difference (=there’s a very big difference) between being alone and being lonely.

2 . [singular, uncountable] the amount by which one thing is greater or smaller than another

difference in age/size etc

There’s not much difference in price.

There’s a five-hour time difference between London and New York.

⇨ split the difference at ↑ split 1 (9)

3 . make a/the difference to have an important effect or influence on something or someone:

Whatever she did, it made no difference.

make a/the difference to

One more person wouldn’t make any difference to the arrangements.

make a/the difference between

It could make the difference between missing your train and getting to work on time.

Having a good teacher has made all the difference for Alex (=had an important influence) .

4 . it makes no difference to somebody used to say that it does not matter to someone which thing happens, is chosen etc:

Morning or afternoon. It makes no difference to me.

5 . our/your/their differences disagreements:

We’ve had our differences in the past.

settle/resolve your differences (=agree not to argue any more)

6 . difference of opinion a slight disagreement:

There have been some differences of opinion as to exactly how the money should be spent.

7 . with a difference informal used to describe something which is interesting or unusual, especially in a good way:

an adventure holiday with a difference

• • •


■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + difference

▪ a big/major/huge difference

I think you’ll notice a big difference.

▪ an important/significant/crucial difference

A study of the two groups of students showed a significant difference.

▪ a slight/small/minor difference

There’s only a slight difference between the male and the female bird.

▪ a marked/dramatic difference (=very noticeable)

There was a marked difference between the two sets of results.

▪ a subtle difference (=not obvious)

There’s a subtle difference in flavour between these coffees.

▪ an essential/fundamental difference (=a very basic one)

The fundamental differences between the two sides slowly emerged.

▪ cultural/political/regional etc differences

the major cultural differences between the west and the east

▪ class differences (=between different classes of society)

People’s answers to the questions showed clear class differences.

▪ sex/gender differences (=between men and women)

gender differences in levels of criminality

▪ individual differences (=between one person and another)

We respect the children’s individual differences.

■ verbs

▪ show a difference

Our data showed considerable national differences.

▪ know the difference (=know how two things are different)

If you don’t know the difference between two words, your dictionary can help.

▪ can tell/see the difference (=can recognize how two things are different)

I can’t really see the difference between these two colours.

▪ notice a difference

She has noticed a dramatic difference in her energy levels.

▪ spot the difference (=see the difference)

It’s easy to spot the difference between real and imitation leather.

• • •


▪ difference a detail, fact, or quality that makes one person or thing different from another:

We should think about the similarities between cultures, not the differences.

| difference between :

Try and spot the differences between these two pictures.


The difference between the two cheeses is that one is made from goat’s milk.

| difference in :

I don’t think there’s any difference in the way you pronounce these two words.

| know the difference :

He’s speaking Italian, not Spanish. Don’t you know the difference?

▪ contrast a very clear difference that you can easily see when you compare two things or people: contrast between something/somebody and something/somebody :

What surprised me was the contrast between Picasso’s early style and his later work.

▪ gap a big difference between two amounts, two ages, or two groups of people: gap between :

There’s a ten-year gap between Kay’s two children.


The gap between rich and poor is wider in the South than in the rest of the country.

| age/gender/income etc gap :

The age gap between us didn’t seem to matter until we decided to have children.

▪ gulf a very big difference and lack of understanding between two groups of people, especially in their beliefs, opinions, and way of life: gulf between somebody and somebody :

More riots led to a growing gulf between the police and the communities in which they worked.

| bridge/cross the gulf (=improve understanding and communication) :

The central problem was how to bridge the gulf between the warring factions of the party.

▪ disparity formal a big difference between two groups of people or things – use this especially when you think the difference is unfair or may cause problems: disparity between :

It is not easy to explain the disparity that still exists between the salaries of men and women.

| disparity in :

the disparity in wealth between the highest and the lowest employees

| the economic/income etc disparity :

The economic disparity between the area’s black and white citizens is a serious problem.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.