[ vair-ee-uhns ]
See synonyms for variance on
  1. the state, quality, or fact of being variable, divergent, different, or anomalous.

  2. an instance of varying; difference; discrepancy.

  1. Also called mean square deviation. Statistics. the square of the standard deviation.

  2. Physics, Chemistry. the number of degrees of freedom of a system.

  3. Law.

    • a difference or discrepancy, as between two statements or documents in law that should agree.

    • a departure from the cause of action originally stated in the complaint.

  4. 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.

  5. a disagreement, dispute, or quarrel.

Idioms about variance

  1. at variance,

    • (of things) in a state of difference or disagreement.

    • (of persons) in a state of controversy or dissension: at variance with one's superiors.

Origin of variance

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Latin variantia, from vari(āre) “to vary” (see vary) + -antia -ance

Other words from variance

  • non·var·i·ance, noun
  • self-var·i·ance, noun

Words Nearby variance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use variance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for variance


/ (ˈvɛərɪəns) /

  1. the act of varying or the quality, state, or degree of being divergent; discrepancy

  2. an instance of diverging; dissension: our variance on this matter should not affect our friendship

  1. at variance

    • (often foll by with) (of facts, etc) not in accord; conflicting

    • (of persons) in a state of dissension

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. (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

  5. chem the number of degrees of freedom of a system, used in the phase rule

  6. 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