Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: variation; variance; variant, n.

variation; variance; variant, n. “Variation” = (1) a departure from a former or normal condition, action, or amount; a departure from a standard or type; or (2) the extent of this departure. E.g.: “For those who are willing to experiment, there are as many wonderful variations of kugel as imagination will allow.” Marge Perry, “A Sweet New Year,” Record (N.J.), 24 Sept. 1997, at F1. “Variance” is used in two widely divergent senses: (1) “a difference or discrepancy between two statements or documents that ought to agree”; and (2) “a waiver of or exemption from a zoning law.” “At variance” = (of people) in a state of discord; (of things) conflicting; in a state of disagreement or difference. E.g.: “So Gov. Wilson, championing Prop. 209 as leading to a ‘color-blind society’ in California, now wants the Legislature to repeal 35 laws he deems to be at variance with 209.” “Prop 209’s Legislative Headaches,” S.F. Examiner, 12 Sept. 1997, at A21. “Variant” = a form or modification differing in some way from other types of the same thing. E.g.: “Most of the goggles purchased for military aviation are produced by ITT . . . . They are variants of the F4949 model, . . . which has a 40-degree field-of-view, both horizontally and vertically.” “Night Vision Goggles,” Tucson Citizen, 18 Sept. 1997, at A6. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “If you don’t know what to write next, shift your viewpoint. A photographer finds that moving only a pace this way or that changes the picture in his viewfinder. Try a little original thinking, too. . . . It grafts new limbs on to an old trunk.” Royal Bank of Canada, The Communication of Ideas 75-76 (rev. ed. 1972).
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