Etymology
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differential (adj.)

1640s, "making or exhibiting a difference," from Medieval Latin differentialis, from Latin differentia "diversity, difference" (see difference). Related: Differentially. As a noun in mathematics, "an infinitesimal difference between two values of variable quantity," from 1704. Differential calculus is attested from 1702.

Origin and meaning of differential
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Definitions of differential
1
differential (n.)
the result of mathematical differentiation; the instantaneous change of one quantity relative to another; df(x)/dx;
Synonyms: derived function / derivative / differential coefficient / first derivative
differential (n.)
a quality that differentiates between similar things;
differential (n.)
a bevel gear that permits rotation of two shafts at different speeds; used on the rear axle of automobiles to allow wheels to rotate at different speeds on curves;
Synonyms: differential gear
2
differential (adj.)
relating to or showing a difference;
differential treatment
differential (adj.)
involving or containing one or more derivatives;
differential equation
From wordnet.princeton.edu