Definition of difference noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈdɪfrəns//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdɪfrəns//
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  1. 1  [countable, uncountable] difference (between A and B) | difference (in something) the way in which two people or things are not like each other; the way in which somebody/something has changed There are no significant differences between the education systems of the two countries. He was studying the complex similarities and differences between humans and animals. There's no difference in the results. I can never tell the difference(= distinguish) between the twins. She noticed a marked difference in the children on her second visit. There's a world of difference between liking someone and loving them. What a difference! You look great with your hair like that. opposite similarity Language BankcontrastHighlighting differences This survey highlights a number of differences in the way that teenage boys and girls in the UK spend their free time. One of the main differences between the girls and the boys who took part in the research was the way in which they use the Internet. Unlike the girls, who use the Internet mainly to keep in touch with friends, the boys questioned in this survey tend to use the Internet for playing computer games. The girls differ from the boys in that they tend to spend more time keeping in touch with friends on the telephone or on social networking websites. Compared to the boys, the girls spend much more time chatting to friends on the telephone. On average the girls spend four hours a week chatting to friends on the phone. In contrast, very few of the boys spend more than five minutes a day talking to their friends in this way. The boys prefer competitive sports and computer games, whereas/while the girls seem to enjoy more cooperative activities, such as shopping with friends. When the girls go shopping, they mainly buy clothes and cosmetics. The boys, on the other hand, tend to purchase computer games or gadgets.
  2. 2  [singular, uncountable] difference (in something) (between A and B) the amount that something is greater or smaller than something else There's not much difference in price between the two computers. There's an age difference of six years between the boys (= one is six years older than the other). I'll lend you £500 and you'll have to find the difference (= the rest of the money that you need). We measured the difference in temperature.
  3. 3[countable] a disagreement between people We have our differences, but she's still my sister. Why don't you settle your differences and be friends again? There was a difference of opinion over who had won.
  4. Word OriginMiddle English: via Old French from Latin differentia ‘difference’, from different- ‘carrying away’, from the verb differre, from dis- ‘from, away’ + ferre ‘bring, carry’.Extra examples A small number of additional jobs can make a crucial difference to economic conditions. Although the talks were generally successful, differences remain between the groups. Can you spot the difference between these two photos? Differences may arise when the young people do not have the same expectations as their parents. He didn’t have enough money, but his aunt agreed to make up the difference. He sold the car for more than he’d paid and pocketed the difference. He was very aware of his difference from the other children. I found very little difference in price. I noticed a real difference in his attitude. I wanted to leave early and Ian wanted to leave late, so we split the difference and left at noon. If you decide on the more expensive model, you can bring this one back and pay the difference. If you want a holiday with a difference, come to Iceland. It’s difficult to tell the difference between butterflies and moths. Just five minutes’ exercise a day could make all the difference. Like any married couple, we have our differences. One tiny mistake when you’re climbing could mean the difference between life and death. Only an expert would know the difference between the male and the female. Our different attitudes to life reflect the differences in our backgrounds. She and Luke had a difference of opinion over how much money they should spend. The difference in price is not very significant. The difference lies in the way the fruit is prepared. The difference with this information service is that it’s free. The differences in size arise from the amount of sunshine each plant gets. The extra money will make a lot of difference to us. The new central heating has made an enormous difference to the house. The questionnaire showed vast differences in what kind of product people want. The study explores the differences between the way girls and boys talk. There are few important policy differences among the main parties. There is a striking difference between eastern and western Europe. There is one key difference with the earlier version of the software. There were some differences as to how to deal with the crisis. There’s a big difference between reading about skiing and doing it yourself. There’s all the difference in the world between choosing to do something and being forced to do it. There’s not much difference between baseball and softball. These talks aim to resolve the outstanding differences between the two sides. They have had some minor differences, but in general they get on well together. We found no significant difference between the two groups. We should be focusing on what we have in common rather than emphasizing our differences. We’re going to get the two sides together to see if they can’t settle their differences. What difference does it make if he doesn’t have a car? What’s the time difference between London and Tokyo? a crucial difference of emphasis I can never tell the difference between the twins. I’ll lend you £500 and you’ll have to find the difference. There’s a world of difference between liking someone and loving them. There’s an age difference of six years between the two boys. There’s not much difference in price between the two computers. We have our differences, but she’s still my sister. What a difference! You look great with your hair like that Why don’t you settle your differences and be friends again?Idioms
    bury the hatchet, bury your differences
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    to stop being unfriendly and become friends again After not speaking to each other for years, the two brothers decided to bury the hatchet.
    make all the difference (to somebody/something)
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    to have an important effect on somebody/something; to make somebody feel better A few kind words at the right time make all the difference.
    make a, no, some, etc. difference (to/in somebody/something)
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     to have an effect/no effect on somebody/something The rain didn't make much difference to the game. Your age shouldn't make any difference to whether you get the job or not. Changing schools made a big difference to my life. What difference will it make if he knows or not? I don't think it makes a lot of difference what colour it is (= it is not important). ‘Shall we go on Friday or Saturday?’ ‘It makes no difference (to me).’
    (informal) used to say that you think the differences between two things are not important ‘That's not a xylophone, it's a glockenspiel.’ ‘Same difference.’ to agree to forget about your disagreements We need to sink our differences and present a united opposition to the plan. (when discussing a price, etc.) to agree on an amount that is at an equal distance between the two amounts that have been suggested (informal) (after nouns) used to show that something is interesting or unusual The traditional backpack with a difference—it's waterproof.
    a/the world of difference
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    (informal) used to emphasize how much difference there is between two things There's a world of difference between liking someone and loving them.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: difference

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