Other forms: variances

A change to the norm is called a variance. It suggests a difference or shifting away from the expected or usual, an example being snow in July, which is a variance in the weather of the United States, even in Minnesota.

When the word variance is used in a comparison, it is usually preceded by the word "at," as in "Her values were at variance with her actions," meaning the two differed. This makes sense, as the word, first seen in Middle English, comes from the Latin verb variāre, which means "to change." If a contractor needs to go outside the standing building code, he needs to obtain a variance, which is legal permission to make a change from the norm.

Definitions of variance
  1. noun
    the quality of being subject to variation
    synonyms: variability, variableness
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    invariability, invariableness, invariance
    the quality of being resistant to variation
    characterized by variation
    variability in coloration
    personal equation
    variability attributable to individual differences
    type of:
    changeability, changeableness
    the quality of being changeable; having a marked tendency to change
  2. noun
    an activity that varies from a norm or standard
    synonyms: variation
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    type of:
    any specific behavior
  3. noun
    an event that departs from expectations
    synonyms: discrepancy, variant
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    type of:
    departure, deviation, difference, divergence
    a variation that deviates from the standard or norm
  4. noun
    a difference between conflicting facts or claims or opinions
    synonyms: disagreement, discrepancy, divergence
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    allowance, leeway, margin, tolerance
    a permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits
    type of:
    the quality of being unlike or dissimilar
  5. noun
    discord that splits a group
    synonyms: division
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    type of:
    discord, dissension
    disagreement among those expected to cooperate
  6. noun
    an official dispensation to act contrary to a rule or regulation (typically a building regulation)
    “a zoning variance
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    type of:
    an exemption from some rule or obligation
  7. noun
    the second moment around the mean; the expected value of the square of the deviations of a random variable from its mean value
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    standard deviation
    the square root of the variance
    (statistics) the mean value of the product of the deviations of two variates from their respective means
    type of:
    the n-th moment of a distribution is the expected value of the n-th power of the deviations from a fixed value
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘variance'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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