make a difference


1

Distinguish or discriminate. This phrase appears in the Bible (Leviticus 11:47): “To make a difference between the unclean and the clean.” [Late 1500s]

2

Also, make the difference. Cause a change in effect, change the nature of something, as in His score on this test will make the difference between passing and failing, or These curtains sure make a difference in the lighting.

3

Be important, matter, as in Her volunteer work made a difference in many lives. The antonym of this usage is make no difference, as in It makes no difference to me if we go immediately or in an hour. This usage appeared long ago in slightly different versions. Miles Coverdale's translation of the Bible of 1535 had it is no difference, and the converse, it makes great difference, was first recorded about 1470.

QUIZZES

WHO SAID IT: A QUIZ ON PRESIDENTIAL WIT AND WISDOM

Think you know your presidents? Take this quiz and see if you can match the style, wit, and ideology of these memorable lines to the right POTUS.
Question 1 of 9
“I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.