Definition of vary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvɛːri/

verb (varies, varying, varied)

[no object]
1Differ in size, amount, degree, or nature from something else of the same general class: the properties vary in price (as adjective varying) varying degrees of success
More example sentences
  • Prices vary greatly depending on the time of year and type of accommodation.
  • The German mortgage market is quite fragmented and interest rates vary according to the type of mortgage lender.
  • When they do become evident, symptoms vary according to the type and location of the aneurysm.
differ, be different, be unlike, be dissimilar
range, extend, stretch, reach, cover, go, run, pass
fluctuate, rise and fall, go up and down, change, alter, shift, swing, waver, oscillate, see-saw, yo-yo
varied, differing, different;
diverse, diversified, assorted
1.1Change from one condition, form, or state to another: your skin’s moisture content varies according to climatic conditions
More example sentences
  • Diving conditions vary, but the best visibility occurs early in the season before the plankton blooms of late summer.
  • The diving in the Sea of Cortez is unlike that anywhere else in the world because the conditions can vary so greatly from day to day.
  • Weather conditions during January have varied between Arctic and monsoon but the course has stood up well and all competitions are on schedule with no backlog.
change, alter, deviate, diverge, depart, differ, fluctuate, move on
1.2 [with object] Introduce modifications or changes into (something) so as to make it different or less uniform: he tried to vary his diet
More example sentences
  • However, the news agency can send different messages by varying the order.
  • I'll wear each dress time and again, varying the look with different accessories.
  • As a nice touch, Zoch includes two cork balls with different diameters which varies the skill level of the game significantly.
diversify, variegate, bring variety to, assort, mix, enlarge, expand, widen, broaden, increase, proliferate, extend;
rare permutate



Example sentences
  • He has varyingly described farm income as E45,000 or E31,000, both of which are completely inaccurate.
  • Long established artists Morrissey, Prince and Duran Duran made varyingly successful comebacks in 2004.
  • Bullish analysts varyingly predict 25-30 percent growth for the division this year.


Middle English: from Old French varier or Latin variare, from varius 'diverse'.

  • variety from Late Middle English:

    Latin varius ‘diverse’ was the source not only of variety, in the late 15th century, but also of variable (Late Middle English), variegated (mid 17th century), various (Late Middle English), and vary (Middle English). The variety show that consists of a series of different types of act is particularly associated with the British music halls, but the first examples of the term are from the USA where variety was first performed in saloons in front of a heavy-drinking male clientele, but when cleaned up and staged in more legitimate theatres it was transformed into vaudeville. We have the 18th-century English poet William Cowper to thank for the familiar proverb variety is the spice of life. His poem ‘The Task’ contains the line: ‘Variety's the very spice of life, / That gives it all its flavour.’ The dramatist Aphra Behn, who had a similar idea around a century earlier, might possibly have inspired him. Her version, from the play The Rover, reads: ‘Variety is the very soul of pleasure.’

Words that rhyme with vary

airy, Azeri, canary, carabinieri, Carey, Cary, chary, clary, contrary, dairy, Dari, faerie, glairy, glary, Guarneri, hairy, lairy, miserere, nary, Nyerere, prairie, Salieri, scary, Tipperary, wary

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vary

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