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free variation

noun, Linguistics.
1.
a relation between the members of a pair of phones, phonemes, morphs, or other linguistic entities such that either of the two may occur in the same position with no change in the meaning of the utterance: in the first syllable of “economics,” “e” and “ē” are in free variation.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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