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[dif-er-uh nt, dif-ruh nt] /ˈdɪf ər ənt, ˈdɪf rənt/
not alike in character or quality; distinct in nature; dissimilar:
The two brothers are very different, although they are identical twins.
not identical; separate or distinct:
When I asked for directions, three people gave me three different answers.
various; several:
Different people told me the same story.
not ordinary; unusual:
I know my new hat is a bit different, but I thought I'd try it out.
Origin of different
1350-1400; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin different- (stem of differēns), present participle of differre. See differ, -ent
Related forms
differently, adverb
differentness, noun
undifferent, adjective
undifferently, adverb
1. unlike, diverse, divergent, contrary. 3. sundry, divers, miscellaneous.
Synonym Study
3. See various.
Usage note
Although it is frequently claimed that different should be followed only by from, not by than, in actual usage both words occur and have for at least 300 years. From is more common today in introducing a phrase, but than is also used: New York speech is different from (or than) that of Chicago. Than is used to introduce a clause: The stream followed a different course than the map showed. In sentences of this type, from is sometimes used instead of than; when it is, more words are necessary: a different course from the one the map showed. Regardless of the sentence construction, both from and than are standard after different in all varieties of spoken and written American English. In British English to frequently follows different: The early illustrations are very different to the later ones. The use of different in the sense “unusual” is well established in all but the most formal American English: The décor in the new restaurant is really different. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for differently
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Rima, incapable of understanding such a thing, took it differently.

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
  • They turn up so differently from what we expected, when they turn up at all.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • How could it be but Charlie and I should be different, seeing we had fared so differently!

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • How differently did the Romans and the Greeks govern themselves?

    Introductory American History Henry Eldridge Bourne
  • She was clad, too, so differently from the general run of the villagers.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for differently


/ˈdɪfərənt; ˈdɪfrənt/
partly or completely unlike
not identical or the same; other: he always wears a different tie
out of the ordinary; unusual
Derived Forms
differently, adverb
differentness, noun
Usage note
The constructions different from, different to, and different than are all found in the works of writers of English during the past. Nowadays, however, the most widely acceptable preposition to use after different is from. Different to is common in British English, but is considered by some people to be incorrect, or less acceptable. Different than is a standard construction in American English, and has the advantage of conciseness when a clause or phrase follows, as in this result is only slightly different than in the US. As, however, this idiom is not regarded as totally acceptable in British usage, it is preferable either to use different from: this result is only slightly different from that obtained in the US or to rephrase the sentence: this result differs only slightly from that in the US
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 differently



late 14c., from Old French different (14c.), from Latin differentem (nominative differens) "differing, different," present participle of differre "to set apart" (see differ). Colloquial sense of "special" attested by 1912. Related: Differently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with differently
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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