/dif"euhr euhns, dif"reuhns/ , n. , v. , differenced, differencing .
1. the state or relation of being different; dissimilarity: There is a great difference between the two.
2. an instance or point of unlikeness or dissimilarity: What accounts for the differences in their behavior?
3. a significant change in or effect on a situation: His tact makes a difference in the way people accept his suggestions.
4. a distinguishing characteristic; distinctive quality, feature, etc.: The difference in the two products is quality.
5. the degree to which one person or thing differs from another.
6. the act of distinguishing; discrimination; distinction.
7. a disagreement in opinion.
8. a dispute or quarrel.
9. Also called finite distance . Math.
a. the amount by which one quantity is greater or less than another.
b. See relative complement .
c. (of a function f ) an expression of the form f ( x + h ) - f ( x ).
10. a differentia.
11. split the difference ,
a. to compromise, esp. to make equal concessions.
b. to divide the remainder equally: Let's take half of the cake and let the three of them split the difference.
12. to cause or constitute a difference in or between; make different.
13. to perceive the difference in or between; discriminate.
[ 1300-50; ME ( differentia, equiv. to different- carrying different ways (see DIFFERENT) + -ia -IA; see -ENCE ]
Syn. 1. inconsistency, variation, diversity, imbalance, inequality, divergence, contrast, contrariety. DIFFERENCE, DISCREPANCY, DISPARITY, DISSIMILARITY imply perceivable unlikeness, variation, or diversity. DIFFERENCE refers to a lack of identity or a degree of unlikeness: a difference of opinion; a difference of six inches.
DISCREPANCY usually refers to an inconsistency between things that should agree, balance, or harmonize: a discrepancy between the statements of two witnesses. DISPARITY implies inequality, often where a greater equality might reasonably be expected: a great disparity between the ages of husband and wife. DISSIMILARITY indicates an essential lack of resemblance between things in some respect comparable: a dissimilarity between social customs in Asia and America. 6. See distinction .
Ant. 1. similarity, agreement.