Definition of variance in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The fact or quality of being different, divergent, or inconsistent.

    ‘her light tone was at variance with her sudden trembling’
    [count noun] ‘the stylistic variances of classical dance’
    • ‘The public debate was misinformed and very much at variance with the position set out by the CEO.’
    • ‘As you point out, it's so obvious at variance with the truth.’
    • ‘The story told through the video is completely at variance with the mood of the song.’
    • ‘He said such an approach was at variance with established legal principles with regard to fair procedure.’
    • ‘The findings are at variance with recent preliminary figures from the National Educational Welfare Board.’
    • ‘‘Thus I'll be supporting him even though that's at variance with decisions I've taken in the past,’ he added.’
    • ‘Yet nothing could be more at variance with our educational heritage.’
    • ‘In short, they are legal attributes of the Crown which are significantly at variance with those enjoyed by private persons.’
    • ‘And the conclusions expressed seem, well, slightly at variance with Grant's synopsis.’
    • ‘Similarly, there is wide variance in study populations and control groups, follow-up periods, and statistical analysis.’
    • ‘Mr Atkinson said there was a well defined process for members who had other interests which might be at variance with their role on the board.’
    • ‘This is completely at variance with what the political system should be all about.’
    • ‘But it turned out worse than that: the 200 submissions were later judged to be totally at variance with the findings of the RAF's own Board of Inquiry into the accident.’
    • ‘In fact, the conclusion of our study is at variance with their assertion.’
    • ‘When a health authority is made aware of clinical activity at variance with best practice in the private sector, it is still duty bound to investigate and act.’
    • ‘Mitchell's failure to name those who paid for a private opinion poll during the election campaign appeared at variance with his public pleas for openness and accountability.’
    • ‘The administration's use of military power was nonetheless limited: the rhetoric and the perception were at variance with the reality.’
    • ‘His views are quite at variance with those of Prime Minister Howard on important aspects of foreign policy and Australia's place in the world.’
    • ‘Often Bollywood heroes are larger than life and their leadership qualities are totally at variance with reality.’
    • ‘As is typical of Edmonds's output, these songs work because he is smart enough to give them stylistic variance from other tracks.’
    difference, variation, discrepancy, dissimilarity, disagreement, conflict, divergence, deviation, contrast, distinction, contradiction, imbalance, incongruity
    inconsistent, at odds, not in keeping, out of keeping, out of line, out of step, in opposition, conflicting, clashing, disagreeing, in disagreement, differing, contrary, incompatible, contradictory, irreconcilable, incongruous, discrepant
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    1. 1.1The state or fact of disagreeing or quarrelling.
      ‘they were at variance with all their previous allies’
      • ‘The figures were at variance with the Irish Hospitality Industry Alliance, which said up to 65,000 jobs would be lost if the blanket ban was introduced.’
      • ‘Clearly at variance with his boss, he can see no basis on which Britain should join the euro.’
      • ‘Last but not least, try not to be at variance with anyone.’
      conflicting, in conflict, contrasting, incompatible, irreconcilable, antithetical, contradictory, clashing, contrary, different, differing, divergent, dissimilar, disagreeing, in disagreement, at odds, at cross purposes, at loggerheads, opposed, opposing, opposite, in opposition, poles apart, polar, at outs
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Law [count noun]A discrepancy between two statements or documents.
    3. 1.3Statistics A quantity equal to the square of the standard deviation.
      • ‘Common statistical methods, including chi square, analysis of variance, and multiple regression were used to analyze the data.’
      • ‘The method allowed him to investigate the independence of the sample mean and sample variance in certain cases.’
      • ‘A statistical test for significance of the regression coefficient requires its variance.’
      • ‘Random effects are typically assumed to follow normal distributions with zero mean and unknown variances, termed ‘variance components.’’
      • ‘In finance, most of the measures we use come straight from statistics - standard deviation, expected value, variance.’
  • 2Us Law
    An official dispensation from a rule or regulation, typically a building regulation.

    • ‘It happens when a newspaper needs something from government officials - a zoning variance, a broadcast license renewal.’
    • ‘It needed variances because the building codes were set up for either residential or hotels, not both.’
    • ‘In New York's Chrysler Building, a code variance was required from the fire department to locate the control panel in a room off the lobby rather than beside the elevators.’
    • ‘Notwithstanding his opposition, the Committee of Adjustments approved the variance on April 19, 1995.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin variantia difference, from the verb variare (see vary).