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[vair-ee-ey-shuh n] /ˌvɛər iˈeɪ ʃən/
the act, process, or accident of varying in condition, character, or degree:
Prices are subject to variation.
an instance of this:
There is a variation in the quality of fabrics in this shipment.
amount, rate, extent, or degree of change:
a temperature variation of 40° in a particular climate.
a different form of something; variant.
  1. the transformation of a melody or theme with changes or elaborations in harmony, rhythm, and melody.
  2. a varied form of a melody or theme, especially one of a series of such forms developing the capacities of the subject.
Ballet. a solo dance, especially one forming a section of a pas de deux.
Astronomy. any deviation from the mean orbit of a heavenly body, especially of a planetary or satellite orbit.
Also called magnetic declination, magnetic variation. Navigation. the angle between the geographic and the magnetic meridian at a given point, expressed in plus degrees east or minus degrees west of true north.
Compare deviation (def 4).
Biology. a difference or deviation in structure or character from others of the same species or group.
Origin of variation
1350-1400; < Latin variātiōn- (stem of variātiō), equivalent to variāt(us) (see variate) + -iōn- -ion; replacing Middle English variacioun < Anglo-French < Latin, as above
Related forms
variational, variative
[vair-ee-ey-tiv] /ˈvɛər iˌeɪ tɪv/ (Show IPA),
variationally, variatively, adverb
intervariation, noun
nonvariation, noun
overvariation, noun
prevariation, noun
self-variation, noun
1. mutation, alteration, modification; deviation, divergence, difference. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for variation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was glad to have discovered that variation; but he could discover nothing else.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • The variation seemed in a manner proportional to the pressure.

  • If it is not this identical system, it is a variation of it.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • The essence of truth cannot be affected by the variation of external circumstances.

  • Time him as often as you will, you can never convict him of a second's variation.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for variation


the act, process, condition, or result of changing or varying; diversity
an instance of varying or the amount, rate, or degree of such change
something that differs from a standard or convention
  1. a repetition of a musical theme in which the rhythm, harmony, or melody is altered or embellished
  2. (as modifier): variation form
  1. a marked deviation from the typical form or function
  2. a characteristic or an organism showing this deviation
(astronomy) any change in or deviation from the mean motion or orbit of a planet, satellite, etc, esp a perturbation of the moon
another word for magnetic declination
(ballet) a solo dance
(linguistics) any form of morphophonemic change, such as one involved in inflection, conjugation, or vowel mutation
Derived Forms
variational, adjective
variationally, adverb
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 variation

late 14c., from Old French variation, from Latin variationem (nominative variatio) "a difference, variation, change," from past participle stem of variare "to change" (see vary). The musical sense is attested from 1801.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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variation in Medicine

variation var·i·a·tion (vâr'ē-ā'shən, vār'-)

  1. The act, process, or result of varying.

  2. The state or fact of being varied.

  3. The extent or degree to which something varies.

  4. Something slightly different from another of the same type.

  5. Marked difference or deviation from the normal or recognized form, function, or structure.

  6. An organism exhibiting such difference or deviation.

  7. A function that relates the values of one variable to those of other variables.

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