American English

Definition of difference noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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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 someone or 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. Language Bankcontrasthighlighting differences This survey highlights a number of differences in the way that teenage boys and girls in the U.S. 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 with 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. opposite similarity
  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. Idioms
    bury the hatchet/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 someone or something; to make someone 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 someone or 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 in my life. What difference will it make if he knows or not? I don't think it makes a lot of difference what color it is (= it is not important). “Should we go on Friday or Saturday?” “It makes no difference (to me).”
    same difference (informal)
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    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.”
    sink your differences
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    to agree to forget about your disagreements We need to sink our differences and present a united opposition to the plan.
    split the difference
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    (when discussing a price, etc.) to agree on an amount that is at an equal distance between the two amounts that have been suggested
    with a difference (informal)
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    (after nouns) used to show that something is interesting or unusual The traditional backpack with a difference—it's waterproof.
    a world of difference (informal)
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    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 Learner's Dictionary entry: difference

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