Definition of variety in English:

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Pronunciation: /vəˈrīədē/

noun (plural varieties)

1The quality or state of being different or diverse; the absence of uniformity, sameness, or monotony: it’s the variety that makes my job so enjoyable
More example sentences
  • The survey found that a lack of variety and poor nutritional quality of foods limits shoppers' ability to eat healthfully.
  • Digital radio promised lower costs, higher quality and more variety.
  • Unlike me, some people really do prefer uniformity to variety, regardless of cost.
diversity, variation, diversification, heterogeneity, multifariousness, change, choice, difference
1.1 (a variety of) A number or range of things of the same general class that are different or distinct in character or quality: the center offers a variety of leisure activities
More example sentences
  • Stallholders offered a variety of goods and a range of arts and crafts were on display.
  • His work draws upon a variety of influences ranging from travel to music and film.
  • However he has had a variety of different roles with a range of responsibilities.
assortment, miscellany, range, array, collection, selection, mixture, medley, multiplicity;
mixed bag, motley collection, potpourri, hodgepodge
1.2A thing that differs in some way from others of the same general class or sort; a type: fifty varieties of fresh and frozen pasta
More example sentences
  • Small firms generally come in two varieties: family-run or entrepreneur-led.
  • Municipal bonds come in two varieties: general obligation bonds and revenue bonds.
  • New varieties generally last only five to seven years before they are replaced.
sort, kind, type, class, category, style, form;
make, model, brand;
strain, breed, genus
1.3A form of television or theater entertainment consisting of a series of different types of acts, such as singing, dancing, and comedy: in 1937 she did another season of variety [as modifier]: a variety show
More example sentences
  • Simon Gross has worked extensively in theatre, television, cabaret and variety.
  • With a London debut in 1891, he quickly established a successful career in music-hall, variety, pantomime, revue, operetta, and musical comedy.
  • Of course, as a result of this I ended up singing on television variety shows along with Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Pat Boone, even Ethel Merman!
2 Biology A taxonomic category that ranks below subspecies (where present) or species, its members differing from others of the same subspecies or species in minor but permanent or heritable characteristics. Varieties are more often recognized in botany, in which they are designated in the style Apium graveolens variety dulce. Compare with form (sense 3 of the noun) and subspecies.
Example sentences
  • Viola is represented by 25 species, two additional subspecies, and five varieties.
  • At least 66 individual species and varieties, representing 25 genera were identified.
  • Taxa recognized within this genus include sections, species, and varieties.
2.1A cultivated form of a plant. See cultivar.
Example sentences
  • Cultivars, or varieties bred from the vine, account for nearly all of the wine produced today.
  • Most of the bulbs we plant in our gardens are cultivated varieties, raised in nurseries in this country or in the Netherlands.
  • For farmers the focus was on some of the latest developments in producing hybrid varieties of vegetables and fruits.
2.2A plant or animal that varies in some trivial respect from its immediate parent or type.


variety is the spice of life

proverb New and exciting experiences make life more interesting.
Example sentences
  • Most people would agree that variety is the spice of life, and that includes sex.
  • Well, they do say variety is the spice of life, I suppose.
  • Some differences will persist but then variety is the spice of life.


Late 15th century: from French variété or Latin varietas, from varius (see various).

  • 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 variety

anxiety, contrariety, dubiety, impiety, impropriety, inebriety, notoriety, piety, satiety, sobriety, ubiety

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: va·ri·e·ty

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