[ dif-er-uhnt, dif-ruhnt ]
/ 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

SYNONYMS FOR different

Related forms

dif·fer·ent·ly, adverbdif·fer·ent·ness, nounun·dif·fer·ent, adjectiveun·dif·fer·ent·ly, adverb

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for differentness

  • Pictures of the local sun, and comments on its differentness from the sun that had nourished the human race since time began.

    Operation: Outer Space|William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • When they went to a window and looked out their differentness separated them infinitely from the people in the street.

    The Narrow House|Evelyn Scott
  • I have lived in the wet underground for so long time that all this makes a differentness in me from you.

    The Girl Scouts Rally|Katherine Keene Galt

British Dictionary definitions for differentness


/ (ˈdɪfərənt, ˈdɪfrənt) /


partly or completely unlike
not identical or the same; otherhe always wears a different tie
out of the ordinary; unusual

Derived Forms

differently, adverbdifferentness, noun


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

Idioms and Phrases with differentness


In addition to the idioms beginning with different

  • different as night and day
  • different strokes for different folks

also see:

  • horse of a different color
  • kettle of fish, different
  • march to a different drummer
  • sing a different tune
  • wear another (different) hat
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.