1. The act of differing; the state or measure of being different or unlike; distinction; dissimilarity; unlikeness; variation; as, a difference of quality in paper; a difference in degrees of heat, or of light; what is the difference between the innocent and the guilty? "Differencies of administration, but the same Lord." (1 Cor. Xii. 5)

2. Disagreement in opinion; dissension; controversy; quarrel; hence, cause of dissension; matter in controversy. "What was the difference? It was a contention in public." (Shak) "Away therefore went I with the constable, leaving the old warden and the young constable to compose their difference as they could." (T. Ellwood)

3. That by which one thing differs from another; that which distinguishes or causes to differ;; mark of distinction; characteristic quality; specific attribute. "The marks and differences of sovereignty." (Davies)

4. Choice; preference. "That now be chooseth with vile difference To be a beast, and lack intelligence." (Spenser)

5. An addition to a coat of arms to distinguish the bearings of two persons, which would otherwise be the same. See Augmentation, and Marks of cadency, under Cadency.

6. <logic> The quality or attribute which is added to those of the genus to constitute a species; a differentia.

7. <mathematics> The quantity by which one quantity differs from another, or the remainder left after subtracting the one from the other. Ascensional difference. See Ascensional.

Synonyms: Distinction, dissimilarity, dissimilitude, variation, diversity, variety, contrariety, disagreement, variance, contest, contention, dispute, controversy, debate, quarrel, wrangle, strife.

Origin: F. Difference, L. Differentia.

(01 Mar 1998)

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