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# differential

[dif-uh-ren-shuh l] /ˌdɪf əˈrɛn ʃəl/
1.
of or relating to difference or diversity.
2.
constituting a difference; distinguishing; distinctive:
a differential feature.
3.
exhibiting or depending upon a difference or distinction.
4.
Physics, Machinery. pertaining to or involving the difference of two or more motions, forces, etc.
5.
Mathematics. pertaining to or involving a derivative or derivatives.
noun
6.
a difference or the amount of difference, as in rate, cost, quantity, degree, or quality, between things that are comparable.
7.
Also called differential gear. Machinery. an epicyclic train of gears designed to permit two or more shafts to rotate at different speeds, as a set of gears in an automobile permitting the rear wheels to be driven at different speeds when the car is turning.
8.
Mathematics.
1. a function of two variables that is obtained from a given function, y = f (x), and that expresses the approximate increment in the given function as the derivative of the function times the increment in the independent variable, written as dy = f′ (x) dx.
2. any generalization of this function to higher dimensions.
9.
Commerce.
1. the difference involved in a differential rate.
2. differential rate.
10.
Physics. the quantitative difference between two or more forces, motions, etc.:
a pressure differential.
Origin of differential
1640-1650
1640-50; < Medieval Latin differentiālis, equivalent to differenti(a) difference + ālis -al1
Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for differential
Contemporary Examples
• This is specious quantification, whether or not differential equations have been incompetently applied.

• He turned his thesis into the book Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics on the new developments in differential geometry.

• Natural selection is the differential survival of replicators in gene pools.

September 22, 2013
• That differential accounted for about 60 percent of the downward revision.

June 24, 2014
• For smaller volumes, Kaijser said, the differential between wood and PVC is about 10 percent.

Historical Examples
• John Bernouilli even taught them to employ the differential calculus in explaining the bodily functions.

• Conversely, when the differential is higher or lower, the markets are out of line.

B. W. Dyer
• This is the acquisition of a fineness of differential perception, which can be obtained only through auto-education.

Maria Montessori
• Between 1890 and 1895 there was a steady decline in the differential.

Frank A. Fetter
• On the other hand, differential points between the Frisians and Angles are likely to be discovered.

Robert Gordon Latham
British Dictionary definitions for differential

## differential

/ˌdɪfəˈrɛnʃəl/
1.
of, relating to, or using a difference
2.
constituting a difference; distinguishing
3.
(maths) of, containing, or involving one or more derivatives or differentials
4.
(physics, engineering) relating to, operating on, or based on the difference between two effects, motions, forces, etc: differential amplifier
noun
5.
a factor that differentiates between two comparable things
6.
(maths)
1. an increment in a given function, expressed as the product of the derivative of that function and the corresponding increment in the independent variable
2. an increment in a given function of two or more variables, f(x1, x2, …xn), expressed as the sum of the products of each partial derivative and the increment in the corresponding variable
7.
an epicyclic gear train that permits two shafts to rotate at different speeds while being driven by a third shaft See also differential gear
8.
(mainly Brit) the difference between rates of pay for different types of labour, esp when forming a pay structure within an industry
9.
(in commerce) a difference in rates, esp between comparable labour services or transportation routes
Derived Forms
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for differential

1640s, from Medieval Latin differentialis, from Latin differentia (see difference). Related: Differentially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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differential in Science
 differential   (dĭf'ə-rěn'shəl)    An infinitesimal increment in a variable.The product of the derivative of a function of one variable and the increment of the independent variable.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
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### Difficulty index for differential

Many English speakers likely know this word

### Word Value for differential

19
21
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