Definition of differential in English:



  • 1attributive Of, showing, or depending on a difference; varying according to circumstances or relevant factors.

    ‘the differential achievements of boys and girls’
    • ‘This seems realistic as we have no evidence to suggest that management of risk factors may have differential benefit according to ethnic origin.’
    • ‘I also want to make it clear that the literature is not completely consistent in the failure to find patterns of results which support the differential impact of sentences that vary in severity.’
    • ‘Because I'm venturing outside my own area of work, and because time is short, I won't review all of the social factors producing differential success of men and women.’
    • ‘After donation, all the blood is divided into its constituent parts by a 3,000-revolution per minute centrifuge according to differential density.’
    • ‘This emphasizes isoform-specific functions in relation to tissue water permeation or growth as well as differential responses to varying extents of the same abiotic stressor.’
    • ‘Prevention and intervention strategies, in order to be inclusive, will need to be mindful of the differential contributions of these factors in the lives of girls.’
    • ‘Differences in abiotic factors such as differential effects of glaciation and sea-level changes on land and in the sea may also greatly influence biogeographic patterns.’
    • ‘Moreover, the differential rates of risk factors predict a future increase in morbidity and mortality among underserved and disenfranchised groups.’
    • ‘The fact that nesting success was unrelated to features of the nest site excludes the influence of weather as major factor leading to differential success among macrohabitats.’
    • ‘The differential expression of mammalian genes depending on the sex of the parent from which they are inherited is known as genomic imprinting.’
    • ‘This evidence, together with evidence of differential rates according to day and time of week, explain why local and regional policing and other crime prevention efforts need to focus on injury as well as offending.’
    • ‘Such centres are subject to their own forms of social and spatial ordering, such as differential occupation and use of space according to factors such as age and gender.’
    • ‘The first issue is that nongenetic factors can produce patterns of differential fitness, and create the illusion of local adaptation.’
    • ‘These differential effects did not depend on the child's age or parents' level of education.’
    • ‘Another factor in this differential growth rate was out-migration from the South.’
    • ‘Thus, it appears that this relationship is accounted for by factors other than differential rates of incarceration or child welfare involvement.’
    • ‘Tests for interaction or trend, however, did not suggest differential benefits according to smoking habit in either trial.’
    • ‘Consequently, sprinkled through the book are references to differential effects of television, depending on class.’
    • ‘At present, it is unclear why there is a differential requirement for such factors.’
    • ‘Changes in an explanatory variable will have differential impacts, depending on the category.’
    distinctive, different, dissimilar, contrasting, divergent, disparate, contrastive
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    1. 1.1 Constituting a specific difference; distinctive.
      ‘the differential features between benign and malignant tumours’
      • ‘We then detail implemented measures that take into account common and differential features between words.’
      • ‘By proteograph analysis, none of these met the criteria as differential features between the two cell types, yet many of these proteins will have key roles in fundamental breast biology.’
      • ‘Fluorescence emission can provide a possible method to separate tissue constituents based on differential spectral features.’
      • ‘Not only offering the means to achieving differential gradations of colour and opacity, the process can also achieve true colour reproduction of photographs and complex graphics.’
    2. 1.2Mathematics Relating to infinitesimal differences or to the derivatives of functions.
      • ‘At Zurich, in addition to his work on set theory he also worked on differential geometry, number theory, probability theory and the foundations of mathematics.’
      • ‘This ‘index theorem’ had antecedents in algebraic geometry and led to important new links between differential geometry, topology and analysis.’
      • ‘He worked on quadratic differential forms and mechanics.’
      • ‘His second area of work was on differential geometry in particular the theory of quadratic differential quantics.’
      • ‘He contributed substantially to topology, differential geometry and complex analytic geometry.’
    3. 1.3 Relating to a difference in a physical quantity.
      ‘a differential amplifier’
      • ‘The differential amplifier further includes first and second load devices coupled to the first and second collector regions.’
      • ‘An analytical differential refractive index detector was used.’
      • ‘Shifts in the field of view directly affected displacement output, but density increment and strain, being differential quantities, were unaffected.’
      • ‘Rather than measure temperature directly, a differential radiometer uses a pair of antennae to detect the difference in temperature between two separate parts of the sky.’
      • ‘Examples of Type II devices are an inclinometer and a longitudinal differential floor profilometer which both have 12-inch sensor wheel spacing.’
      • ‘Each member of a pair of coils that sense the same component of the transmitted field is connected to a different input of a differential amplifier.’
      • ‘The signals from the Na + selective and voltage barrels were measured and simultaneously subtracted by the high impedance differential amplifier.’
      • ‘Rail-to-rail input common mode range differential amplifier that operates with very low rail-to-rail voltages’
      • ‘A differential amplifier was constructed and has many advantages for a variety of applications.’
      • ‘A differential amplifier was used for signal amplification.’
      • ‘A differential amplifier with a band-pass up to 20 Hz was used to increase immunity to noise.’
      • ‘A differential amplifier calculates a difference between the reference signal and the output signal from the sample and hold circuit.’


  • 1A difference between amounts of things.

    ‘the differential between petrol and diesel prices’
    • ‘Certainly, the differential between the amount of American workers and Chinese workers will shrink.’
    • ‘In most countries, the differential between urban and rural wages is quite pronounced, and this was - and is - certainly the case in Thailand.’
    • ‘The primary turnover measurement is the differential between takeaways and giveaways.’
    • ‘A majority of American states either mandate or permit manual recounting when the differential between the machine vote totals for opposing candidates is within a certain margin.’
    • ‘The result has been a sharp widening in the differential between the wages of highly skilled and low-skilled labor in the United States and other advanced countries.’
    • ‘They also noted seasonal variation in the differential between the two groups.’
    • ‘The differential between the New Zealand and Australian corporate tax regimes needed to be addressed as a ‘matter of priority’.’
    • ‘The result included some desirable elements, such as the differential between urban and non-urban taxes and diesel fuel, but was fatally flawed by the commitment that the price of fuel would not increase.’
    • ‘The differential between male and female earnings increased over the period as well.’
    • ‘The differential between public sector union employees and the rest of the working class in wages, benefits, and job security makes a joke of the very concept of working class solidarity.’
    • ‘A very high proportion of th e workforce is lowly paid, the differential between the very high income of a small minority and the remarkably low income of the majority of Irish workers being among the highest in the Western world.’
    • ‘Would you explain the differential between those two sums?’
    • ‘The Government hopes the move will help slash the differential between country and city fuel prices.’
    • ‘Well, unquestionably, I ran closest to the president of any of the other Republican candidates that won in terms of the differential between his vote and mine.’
    • ‘However, the use of the exchange rate as a nominal anchor also led to its real appreciation - as it takes time for the differential between domestic and foreign inflation to fall.’
    • ‘And profit is a function of the differential between real costs and possible prices.’
    • ‘The differential between the reserve rate and the market rate on treasury bills could decline to make up for the declining demand for reserves derived from the demand for checking accounts.’
    • ‘Accountants in large firms are more accustomed to a power differential between different levels of management than are accountants in small firms.’
    • ‘The differential between interest earned and interest paid out by a bank is called the net interest margin.’
    • ‘In a study carried out last year, it emerged that the differential between the cost of books for a first standard pupil can be between £19.48 and £28.97.’
    difference, gap, gulf, divergence, disparity, discrepancy, imbalance, inequality, contrast, distinction
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    1. 1.1British A difference in wages between industries or between categories of employees in the same industry.
      ‘regional differentials in pay’
      • ‘The Central Bank, like many other government bodies, has suffered from a transfer of resources to private industry driven largely by salary differentials.’
      • ‘Factors of production do not move easily across national boundaries in response to wage price differentials.’
      • ‘Negotiations over reducing pay differentials have broken down.’
      • ‘These include the recognition of regional wage differentials.’
      • ‘First she says there ought to be a rational justification for pay differentials.’
      • ‘Authenticity means hammering on about growing inequality and doing something about gross pay differentials.’
      • ‘And it is also true that wage differentials between the public and private sector pay have increased.’
      • ‘Regional differentials should be introduced or re-introduced into award rates of pay.’
      • ‘If the widening of the wage differential is allowed to proceed unchecked, it threatens to create within our own country a social problem of major proportions.’
      • ‘And it isn't motivated by just wage differentials.’
      • ‘The dispute concerns night-shift and day-shift pay differentials.’
      • ‘The situation is worsened by distorted pay differentials.’
      • ‘If they are allowed to explain pay differentials, they only perpetuate that past discrimination.’
      • ‘The court stated that a number of criteria used by employers to justify incremental pay differentials will have to be justified.’
      • ‘We have only to note the way groups of workers use widening or narrowing differentials in the pay structure to argue for wage increases to see the truth of George's statement.’
      • ‘Employees have voted to take action due to pay differentials between workers in London and Kent.’
      • ‘Pay differentials in a capitalist society are stark, but the alternative - everybody getting the same - is Marxism, which never works anyway.’
      • ‘The wage differentials curbed to reasonable limits.’
      • ‘Small firms are also under pressure to maintain pay differentials between their junior and more experienced staff to create a career path.’
      • ‘German unions maintain rigid wage differentials for skills in order to protect their poorest workers.’
      imbalance, inequity, unevenness, disproportion, inconsistency, variation, variability
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    2. 1.2Mathematics An infinitesimal difference between successive values of a variable.
      • ‘He used differentials in his courses, which he supplemented with a special one on difference equations and numerical mathematics because engineers often work on discrete data.’
      • ‘Here the Fréchet differential plays a decisive role.’
      • ‘He had shown when certain elliptic differentials could be integrated in logarithms but his methods was of little practical use.’
      • ‘It investigates the use of some functional equations in order to calculate the differentials of logarithmic and trigonometrical functions as well as the binomial expansion and Taylor formula.’
      • ‘He published a series of works on combinatorial mathematics, in particular probability, series and formulas for higher differentials.’
    3. 1.3 A set of gears allowing a motor vehicle's driven wheels to revolve at different speeds when going around corners.
      • ‘The additional weight is attributed to the brake system, which will consist of an aluminum brake caliper, steel rotor and pad as specified by the IRL, as well as the limited slip differential in the gearbox.’
      • ‘Meanwhile other educators having understood the merits of the round wheel, have moved on to the complexities of the axle and the differential.’
      • ‘When so engaged, the clutch pack completes the link between the spinning prop shaft and the rear differential, dispatching engine torque to the rear wheels.’
      • ‘He then locked up the differential on his rear axles, tried it again, got a bit of traction, pulled forward, thought he could then back in, tried that, and got stuck again.’
      • ‘The Race Logic traction control and limited slip differential allows all areas access to the machine's mighty torque.’
      • ‘One application of this is in the combined gearbox and differential.’
      • ‘It's just a bunch of tiny things rather than big engines, differentials, heavy wheels, that comes out during the race, blocks made of wax in the springs that crush when the race starts.’
      • ‘There is a viscous coupling in the front axle, a self-locking differential in the rear and the whole thing alters torque seamlessly from front to rear as required.’
      • ‘Instead, if the driver pushes the accelerator to the floor, the differential cuts the power until the front wheels can find traction, then it allows all the power through.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this is only available on the 3.7 litre petrol version, which gets an extra differential in the driveline.’
      • ‘Torque transfer is a function of the internal gearing, which generates frictional resistance to differentiation through the axial and radial thrust forces of the gears in the differential.’
      • ‘The transfer cases feature an open center differential which absorbs the speed difference between axles and the front-axle drive.’
      • ‘That would include the engine, the transmission, the differential and the axles.’
      • ‘A propeller shaft transferred the power from the gearbox to the differential.’
      • ‘This same product also secures the crown wheel to the differential to prevent fretting (wear caused by small metal particles generated on assembly).’
      • ‘And the final drive differential linked to the output pulley with a pair of transfer gears is the third.’
      • ‘By applying brake pressure to a slipping wheel, torque is transferred across that axle's differential to the other wheel.’
      • ‘There will be components like axles, differentials, for certain products that are very similar in architecture to ours.’
      • ‘That could explain why so many u-joints, clutches, transmissions, differentials and brakes were used up.’
      • ‘Power exits the transmission through a custom metal matrix composite aluminum driveshaft into a race-specification differential with a 4.56: 1 final drive ratio.’


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin differentialis, from Latin differentia ‘difference’ (see differentia).