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[vair-ee-uh ns] /ˈvɛər i əns/
the state, quality, or fact of being variable, divergent, different, or anomalous.
an instance of varying; difference; discrepancy.
Also called mean square deviation. Statistics. the square of the standard deviation.
Physics, Chemistry. the number of degrees of freedom of a system.
  1. a difference or discrepancy, as between two statements or documents in law that should agree.
  2. a departure from the cause of action originally stated in the complaint.
an official permit to do something normally forbidden by regulations, especially by building in a way or for a purpose normally forbidden by a zoning law or a building code.
a disagreement, dispute, or quarrel.
at variance,
  1. (of things) in a state of difference or disagreement.
  2. (of persons) in a state of controversy or dissension:
    at variance with one's superiors.
Origin of variance
1300-50; Middle English < Latin variantia, equivalent to vari(āre) to vary) + -antia -ance
Related forms
nonvariance, noun
self-variance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for variance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This was, indeed, the turning point of his life, and it developed a policy utterly at variance with his ultimate views.

  • One half of the nation is always at variance with the other half.

  • Mile after mile the character of the stream showed no variance.

    The Woman from Outside Hulbert Footner
  • Monti and Foscolo, although at variance with each other, were kind to me.

  • You would each be more tranquil in mind if you were not at variance with morality and the laws.

    The Two Brothers Honore de Balzac
  • But is not this at variance with the teaching of Scripture and the experience of the saints?

    Holy in Christ Andrew Murray
British Dictionary definitions for variance


the act of varying or the quality, state, or degree of being divergent; discrepancy
an instance of diverging; dissension: our variance on this matter should not affect our friendship
at variance
  1. (often foll by with) (of facts, etc) not in accord; conflicting
  2. (of persons) in a state of dissension
(statistics) a measure of dispersion obtained by taking the mean of the squared deviations of the observed values from their mean in a frequency distribution
a difference or discrepancy between two steps in a legal proceeding, esp between a statement in a pleading and the evidence given to support it
(in the US and Canada) a licence or authority issued by the board of variance to contravene the usual rule, esp to build contrary to the provision of a zoning code
(chem) the number of degrees of freedom of a system, used in the phase rule
(accounting) the difference between actual and standard costs of production
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 variance

mid-14c., "fact of undergoing change," from Old French variance, from Latin variantia, from variare "to change" (see vary). Meaning "state of disagreement" is recorded from early 15c. The U.S. zoning sense of "official dispensation from a building regulation" is recorded from 1925.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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variance in Medicine

variance var·i·ance (vâr'ē-əns, vār'-)

  1. The state or quality of being variant or variable; a variation.

  2. The state or fact of differing or of being in conflict.

  3. The square of the standard deviation.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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