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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.
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for variances
  • These variances instead likely differ mostly because different surveying methods provide different results.
  • variances to codes may be granted on the basis of architectural merit.
  • As mentioned in my post above, these variances are normal and are footnoted each year.
  • By reducing these variances, quality would be improved and a huge amount of cash could be saved.
  • Temperature and pressure variances are incorporated in aircraft performance charts, but not relative humidity.
  • Things are not always simple and there are no doubt variances as to how one body formed vs others.
  • There are variances over time in the amount generated by nature.
  • Integrated systems can also cut down on the need for zoning variances or special permits.
  • Estimates of variances out of models with a set of parameters is less so.
  • The oscillations in the graph are due to the natural variances in virus epidemics.
British Dictionary definitions for variances


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 variances



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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variances 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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Encyclopedia Article for variances


in statistics, the square of the standard deviation of a sample or set of data, used procedurally to analyze the factors that may influence the distribution or spread of the data under consideration. See mean.

Learn more about variance with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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