dif·fer·ent (dĭfər-ənt, dĭfrənt)
1. Unlike in form, quality, amount, or nature; dissimilar: took different approaches to the problem.
2. Distinct or separate: That's a different issue altogether.
3. Various or assorted: interviewed different members of the community.
4. Differing from all others; unusual: a different point of view.
In a different way or manner; otherwise: "Carol ... didn't know different until Elinor told her" (Ben Brantley).
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin differēns, different-, present participle of differre, to differ; see DIFFER.]
Usage Note: The phrases different from and different than are both common in British and American English. The British also use the construction different to. Since the 18th century, language critics have singled out different than as incorrect when used before nouns and noun phrases, though it is well attested in the works of reputable writers. Traditionally, from is used when the comparison is between two persons or things: My book is different from [not than] yours. Note that noun phrases, including ones that have clauses in them, also fall into this category: The campus is different from the way it was the last time you were here. The Usage Panel is divided on the acceptability of different than with nouns and noun phrases, with a majority finding several of these constructions unacceptable. In our 2004 survey, 57 percent rejected the use of different than with a gerund in the sentence Caring for children with disabilities in a regular child-care setting is not new and, in many cases, is not particularly different than caring for other children. Roughly the same percentage (55) disapproved of the construction with a noun phrase containing a clause in The new kid felt that the coach's treatment of him was different than that of the other players who were on the team last year. Some 60 percent rejected the sentence New York seemed very different than Rome, where they'd been on good terms. There should be no complaint, however, when the object of comparison is expressed by a full clause: The campus is different than it was twenty years ago.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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