Webster 1913 Edition



: cf. F.
. See
The quality or state of being various; intermixture or succession of different things; diversity; multifariousness.
is nothing else but a continued novelty.
of colors depends upon the composition of light.
Sir I. Newton.
For earth hath this
from heaven.
There is a
in the tempers of good men.
That which is various.
A number or collection of different things; a varied assortment;
as, a
of cottons and silks
He . . . wants more time to do that
of good which his soul thirsts after.
Something varying or differing from others of the same general kind; one of a number of things that are akin; a sort;
of wood, land, rocks, etc
An individual, or group of individuals, of a species differing from the rest in some one or more of the characteristics typical of the species, and capable either of perpetuating itself for a period, or of being perpetuated by artificial means; hence, a subdivision, or peculiar form, of a species.
Varieties usually differ from species in that any two, however unlike, will generally propagate indefinitely (unless they are in their nature unfertile, as some varieties of rose and other cultivated plants); in being a result of climate, food, or other extrinsic conditions or influences, but generally by a sudden, rather than a gradual, development; and in tending in many cases to lose their distinctive peculiarities when the individuals are left to a state of nature, and especially if restored to the conditions that are natural to typical individuals of the species. Many varieties of domesticated animals and of cultivated plants have been directly produced by man.
In inorganic nature, one of those forms in which a species may occur, which differ in minor characteristics of structure, color, purity of composition, etc.
☞ These may be viewed as variations from the typical species in its most perfect and purest form, or, as is more commonly the case, all the forms, including the latter, may rank as Varieties. Thus, the sapphire is a blue variety, and the ruby a red variety, of corundum; again, calcite has many Varieties differing in form and structure, as Iceland spar, dogtooth spar, satin spar, and also others characterized by the presence of small quantities of magnesia, iron, manganese, etc. Still again, there are varieties of granite differing in structure, as graphic granite, porphyritic granite, and other varieties differing in composition, as albitic granite, hornblendic, or syenitic, granite, etc.
Geographical variety
a variety of any species which is coincident with a geographical region, and is usually dependent upon, or caused by, peculiarities of climate.
Variety hybrid
a cross between two individuals of different varieties of the same species; a mongrel.
Syn. – Diversity; difference; kind.
. A man has a variety of employments when he does many things which are not a mere repetition of the same act; he has a diversity of employments when the several acts performed are unlike each other, that is, diverse. In most cases, where there is variety there will be more or less of diversity, but not always. One who sells railroad tickets performs a great variety of acts in a day, while there is but little diversity in his employment.
All sorts are here that all the earth yields!
without end.
But see in all corporeal nature’s scene,
What changes, what
, have been!

Webster 1828 Edition



[L. varietas, from vario, to vary.]
Intermixture of different things, or of things different in form; or a succession of different things.
Variety is nothing else but a continued novelty.
The variety of colors depends on the composition of light.
One thing of many which constitute variety. In this sense, it has a plural; as the varieties of a species.
Difference; dissimilitude.
There is a variety in the tempers of good men.
Variation; deviation; change from a former state. [Little used.]
Many and different kinds. The shopkeeper has a great variety of cottons and silks.
He wants to do a variety of good things.
In natural history, a difference not permanent or invariable, but occasioned by an accidental change; as a variety of any species of plant.
Naturalists formerly erred very much in supposing an accidental variety of plants, animals or minerals, to be a distinct species. Ray has established a good test for varieties in botany. A plant is distinct, which propagates itself in its own form by its seed; but when the difference disappears in the new plant, it is only a variety. Variety then is a difference between individuals, not permanent nor important enough to constitute a distinct species; such as in size, color, fullness, curling, &c.
Different sort; as varieties of soil or land.

Definition 2023




Alternative forms

  • variëty (rare)


variety (plural varieties)

  1. The quality of being varied; diversity.
    Variety is the spice of life.
  2. A specific variation of something.
  3. A number of different things.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      One morning I had been driven to the precarious refuge afforded by the steps of the inn, after rejecting offers from the Celebrity to join him in a variety of amusements. But even here I was not free from interruption, for he was seated on a horse-block below me, playing with a fox terrier.
    • 2013 January 1, Katie L. Burke, Ecological Dependency”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 1, page 64:
      In his first book since the 2008 essay collection Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, David Quammen looks at the natural world from yet another angle: the search for the next human pandemic, what epidemiologists call “the next big one.” His quest leads him around the world to study a variety of suspect zoonoses—animal-hosted pathogens that infect humans.
  4. A state of constant change.
  5. (taxonomy) A rank in a taxonomic classification, below species and subspecies.
  6. (cybernetics) The total number of distinct states of a system.
  7. (cybernetics) Logarithm of the base 2 of the total number of distinct states of a system.
  8. (linguistics) A term used for a specific form of a language, neutral to whether that form is a dialect, accent, register, etc. and to its prestige level.
  9. (algebra, esp. universal algebra) The class of all algebraic structures of a given signature satisfying a given set of identities.
  10. The kind of theatrical entertainment given in variety shows.
  11. The production of, or performance in, variety shows.


  • (algebra, esp. universal algebra): equational variety


Derived terms

Related terms


See also

External links

  • variety in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • variety in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911