[dif-er-uhns, dif-ruhns]


verb (used with object), dif·fer·enced, dif·fer·enc·ing.

to cause or constitute a difference in or between; make different.
to perceive the difference in or between; discriminate.

Nearby words

  1. dif-,
  2. dif.,
  3. diff.,
  4. diffeomorphism,
  5. differ,
  6. difference threshold,
  7. different,
  8. different as night and day,
  9. different strokes for different folks,
  10. differentia


    split the difference,
    1. to compromise, especially to make equal concessions.
    2. to divide the remainder equally: Let's take half of the cake and let the three of them split the difference.

Origin of difference

1300–50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin differentia, equivalent to different- carrying different ways (see different) + -ia -ia; see -ence

Synonym study

1. Difference, discrepancy, disparity, dissimilarity imply perceivable unlikeness, variation, or diversity. Difference refers to a lack of identity or a degree of unlikeness: a difference of opinion; a difference of six inches. Discrepancy usually refers to an inconsistency between things that should agree, balance, or harmonize: a discrepancy between the statements of two witnesses. Disparity implies inequality, often where a greater equality might reasonably be expected: a great disparity between the ages of husband and wife. Dissimilarity indicates an essential lack of resemblance between things in some respect comparable: a dissimilarity between social customs in Asia and America. 6. See distinction.

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

British Dictionary definitions for split the difference



the state or quality of being unlike
a specific instance of being unlike
a distinguishing mark or feature
a significant change in a situationthe difference in her is amazing
a disagreement or argumenthe had a difference with his wife
a degree of distinctness, as between two people or things
  1. the result of the subtraction of one number, quantity, etc, from another
  2. the single number that when added to the subtrahend gives the minuend; remainder
logic another name for differentia
maths (of two sets)
  1. the set of members of the first that are not members of the secondSymbol: A – B
  2. symmetric differencethe set of members of one but not both of the given setsOften symbolized: A + B
heraldry an addition to the arms of a family to represent a younger branch
make a difference
  1. to have an effect
  2. to treat differently
split the difference
  1. to settle a dispute by a compromise
  2. to divide a remainder equally
with a difference with some peculiarly distinguishing quality, good or bad

verb (tr)

rare to distinguish
heraldry to add a charge to (arms) to differentiate a branch of a family
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 split the difference



mid-14c., from Old French difference (12c.) "difference, distinction; argument, dispute," from Latin differentia "diversity, difference," from differentem (nominative differens), present participle of differre "to set apart" (see differ). Sense of "a quarrel" first attested late 14c. Colloquial phrase what's the diff? first recorded 1896.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for split the difference


[dĭfər-əns, dĭfrəns]


The magnitude or degree by which one quantity differs from another of the same kind.

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

Idioms and Phrases with split the difference

split the difference

Compromise between two close figures, divide the remainder equally. For example, You're asking $5,000 for the car and I'm offering $4,000; let's split the difference and make it $4,500. [c. 1700]


see make a difference; split the difference. Also see under different.

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