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Difference Between Difference and Differential

Main Difference

Difference and Differential are two terms that confuse a lot of people with their similarity and usage. Most of the times these words are taken in the same context and used accordingly, but there is a lot of difference in both of them, which is explained in the lines that follow. Since both the terms are derived from the same word, they are deemed to be similar in some ways. There are different perspectives under which their meanings can be defined. In terms of mathematics, the difference is defined as something that sum of comparison between two words while differential is defined as the change in the value of some variable. Many words can describe the term difference quickly, on the other hand while explaining differential, there aren’t many words which can correctly explain what it exactly means and understanding it properly can be an issue. Both these terms can be taken in the same context when it comes to basic understanding. In standard speaking terms, the difference is a characteristic that distinguishes two people or things from each other as in they have no similarities between the two of them. On the other hand, the differential is the change between them in comparison to each other. The two terms have originated from the same word root and therefore tend to confuse people in terms of their usage. To generalize these terms, the difference is something that tells how much one is opposite to the other while differential is the characteristic by which that change or opposition can be measured. Most of the times, the term difference is used in day to day language and is considered a word that is used abundantly. While differential is a word which is deemed to be used mostly in technical terms such as while solving a mathematical equation or in scientific terms, to measure something. If we go deeper into the technical side of things, then the difference can be termed as the overall change in two terms irrespective of the context and other factors while differential is the total detectable change between those two expressions keeping in mind the current conditions and factors affecting.

Comparison Chart

DefinitionThe quality of being unlike or dissimilarThe result of mathematical differentiation; the instantaneous change of one quantity relative to another
UsageUsed in daily livesUsed as a mathematical term
Alternative Explanationamount of opposition or gap between two objectsthe total change or variation between the two objects

Definition of Difference

In simple words, the difference can be explained in two ways. Firstly, it is a factor according to which two things or people can be opposite of each other. This can be explained further in different words such as dissimilarity, contrast or unevenness. Secondly, it can also be defined as a point of contention in which two people tend to disagree. This can be explained further with synonyms such as quarrel, dispute, debate and many others. Going into more complexity, difference can be defined as the extent to which two objects can be incongruities as in it shows inconsistency among two things. This does not depend on any other conditions, but the overall opposition between the two objects is just called difference. There are many other definitions of difference which can expand it more. It can be termed as a sudden change in the way people act and an aspect that helps in distinguishing between two things. This word is originated from the French word differential which means a trait that helps in identifying a species from another.


Definition of Differential

The differential is defined as something that depends on the difference, as in, a quantity which variations about the change between two objects. In general English terms, the differential is a factor that changes according to the difference in circumstances. This word is also derived from the main word called differential, a French word which is the root of all such similar terms. Therefore, it is confused with other terms which do not mean it bears the same meaning. Mostly this term relates to mathematics and does not have an everyday use when it comes to language but still has various meanings depending upon different origins. It is basically a characteristic according to which the transformation can be measured. In scientific terms differential is called something that helps in comparing the actual difference after the factors involved have influenced the change. Several other explanations come with this word, in mathematics, it is known as the tremendous relation difference and is often used while solving the derivative equations or the difference between two variable quantities.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. The difference is taken frequently in general language terms and more often used in daily language. The differential is considered more in scientific terms and more often used in technical terms.
  2. The difference means the amount of opposition or gap between two objects while Differential means the total change or variation between the two objects about the factors it is depending on.
  3. In mathematical terms, the difference is the sum of two equations irrespective of anything while differential is the change in the value of these words depending on the variables involved.
  4. In more simplified terms, the difference is the change in the things themselves while differential is the difference in the number of things.


Although these two terms are very different from each other which is obvious just by the name. One ends up being a word and the other a mathematical work. This article helps in clearing some misconceptions about the two terms and related the differences between them in a proper way so that you know what you are talking about.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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