[vair-ee-uh ns]
See more synonyms for variance on
  1. the state, quality, or fact of being variable, divergent, different, or anomalous.
  2. an instance of varying; difference; discrepancy.
  3. Also called mean square deviation. Statistics. the square of the standard deviation.
  4. Physics, Chemistry. the number of degrees of freedom of a system.
  5. Law.
    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.
  6. 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.
  7. a disagreement, dispute, or quarrel.
  1. 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 formsnon·var·i·ance, nounself-var·i·ance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for at variance


  1. the act of varying or the quality, state, or degree of being divergent; discrepancy
  2. an instance of diverging; dissensionour variance on this matter should not affect our friendship
  3. at variance
    1. (often foll by with)(of facts, etc) not in accord; conflicting
    2. (of persons) in a state of dissension
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. (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
  7. chem the number of degrees of freedom of a system, used in the phase rule
  8. 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

Word Origin and History for at 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

at variance in Medicine


[vârē-əns, văr-]
  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.

Idioms and Phrases with at variance

at variance

Differing, discrepant; also, in a state of conflict. For example, John's and Mary's answers are at variance means that their answers do not agree, or John was at variance with his in-laws means that he strongly disagreed or quarreled with them. [Early 1500s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.