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From Middle English varien, from Old French varier, from Latin variō (to change, alter, make different), from varius (different, various); see various.



vary (third-person singular simple present varies, present participle varying, simple past and past participle varied)

  1. (transitive) To change with time or a similar parameter.
    He varies his magic tricks so as to minimize the possibility that any given audience member will see the same trick twice.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      We are to vary the customs according to the time and country where the scene of action lies.
  2. (transitive) To institute a change in, from a current state; to modify.
    You should vary your diet. Eating just bread will do you harm in the end.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Waller
      Gods, that never change their state, / Vary oft their love and hate.
  3. (intransitive) Not to remain constant: to change with time or a similar parameter.
    His mood varies by the hour.
    The sine function varies between −1 and 1.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Addison
      While fear and anger, with alternate grace, / Pant in her breast, and vary in her face.
  4. (of the members of a group, intransitive) To display differences.
    The sprouting tendency of potatoes varies between cultivars, years and places of growing.
  5. (intransitive) To be or act different from the usual.
    I'm not comfortable with 3.Nc3 in the Caro-Kann, so I decided to vary and play exd5.
  6. (transitive) To make of different kinds; to make different from one another; to diversity; to variegate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Thomas Browne
      God hath varied their inclinations.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      God hath here / Varied his bounty so with new delights.
  7. (transitive, music) To embellish; to change fancifully; to present under new aspects, as of form, key, measure, etc. See variation.
  8. (intransitive, obsolete) To disagree; to be at variance or in dissension.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Webster
      the rich jewel which we vary for


Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


vary (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) alteration; change.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Related termsEdit

Further readingEdit




From Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *bəʀas, from Proto-Austronesian *bəʀas.




  1. rice ((raw) seeds used as food)