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[vair-ee-uh ns] /ˈvɛər i əns/
the state, quality, or fact of being variable, divergent, different, or anomalous.
an instance of varying; difference; discrepancy.
Also called mean square deviation. Statistics. the square of the standard deviation.
Physics, Chemistry. the number of degrees of freedom of a system.
  1. a difference or discrepancy, as between two statements or documents in law that should agree.
  2. a departure from the cause of action originally stated in the complaint.
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.
a disagreement, dispute, or quarrel.
at variance,
  1. (of things) in a state of difference or disagreement.
  2. (of persons) in a state of controversy or dissension:
    at variance with one's superiors.
Origin of variance
1300-50; Middle English < Latin variantia, equivalent to vari(āre) to vary) + -antia -ance
Related forms
nonvariance, noun
self-variance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for variance
  • The difference is the variance due to true team ability.
  • Beyond that, variance increases dramatically, with extrapolation and factors estimation becoming widely speculative.
  • Long intervals of quiet may be well within the natural variance of such a cycle.
  • The phenotype consists of the genotype variance plus the environmental variance.
  • Others submit that granting one such variance would set a dangerous precedent.
  • Doctoral programs vary and the variance is larger within group than it is between groups.
  • Risk is determined by the variance in historical data.
  • Many estimates of the amount of standing redwood have been made, with results widely at variance with one another.
  • But, since wind energy is reliant on the variance of wind being present, a backup system is required.
  • The town heard his concerns before voting on a variance the restaurant needed to proceed.
British Dictionary definitions for variance


the act of varying or the quality, state, or degree of being divergent; discrepancy
an instance of diverging; dissension: our variance on this matter should not affect our friendship
at variance
  1. (often foll by with) (of facts, etc) not in accord; conflicting
  2. (of persons) in a state of dissension
(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
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
(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
(chem) the number of degrees of freedom of a system, used in the phase rule
(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
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Word Origin and History for variance

mid-14c., "fact of undergoing change," from Old French variance, from Latin variantia, from variare "to change" (see vary). Meaning "state of disagreement" is recorded from early 15c. The U.S. zoning sense of "official dispensation from a building regulation" is recorded from 1925.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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variance in Medicine

variance var·i·ance (vâr'ē-əns, vār'-)

  1. The state or quality of being variant or variable; a variation.

  2. The state or fact of differing or of being in conflict.

  3. The square of the standard deviation.

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