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  • IPA(key): /dɪf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪf


diff (plural diffs)

  1. (slang) Clipping of difference.
    A peach and an apricot? What's the diff?
    • 1960 March 13, Walt Kelly, Pogo, Sunday, comic strip, →ISBN, page 277:
      [Pogo:] A woman outthunk is a woman scorned and you know what's got no fury like that! [...] Mus' I tell you? It's Sunday.
      [Albert:] What's the diff? Tell away.
      [Pogo, whispering:] Hell.
  2. (video games, slang) Used to trash-talk an opposing team at the end of a game by pointing out a skill difference between some role and the same role on the other team.
    tank diff (i.e., the deciding factor in the game was the difference in skill between the teams' tank players)
  3. (computing) Any program which compares two files or sets of files and outputs a description of the differences between them.
  4. (computing) The output of a diff program, a diff file.
    • 2004, Paul Graham, Great Hackers, Essay:
      I didn't want to waste people's time telling them things they already knew. It's more efficient just to give them the diffs.
  5. (automotive) Abbreviation of differential: the differential gear in an automobile.
    • 2000, Bob Foster, Birdum or Bust!, Henley Beach, SA: Seaview Press, page 45:
      Many operators cursed the early diff and driveline set-ups[.]
  6. (medicine) Abbreviation of differential: differential of types of white blood cell in a complete blood count.
    • 2006, “Gastroenterology: Esophageal Varices”, in Steven E. Diaz, The Little Black Book of Emergency Medicine (Jones and Bartlett's Little Black Book Series), 2nd edition, Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, →ISBN, page 103:
      Hemoccult emesis and stool, CBC with diff, PT/PTT, type and cross for PRBCs.
  7. (climbing) A difficult route.

Derived terms[edit]


diff (third-person singular simple present diffs, present participle diffing, simple past and past participle diffed)

  1. (transitive, computing) To run a diff program on (files or items) so as to produce a description of the differences between them, as for a patch file.
    • 2011, Gray Hat Hacking : The Ethical Hacker's Handbook[1], 3rd edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 484:
      As we move through this chapter, you will quickly see the benefits of diffing code changes to drivers, libraries, and applications.
  2. (transitive, computing) To compare two files or other objects, manually or otherwise.


diff (not comparable)

  1. Abbreviation of different.
    • 2000 August 15, ZedMan2K, “Anti-Leiberman Backlash Already”, in alt.religion.christian.baptist[2] (Usenet):
      I don't think it's any diff then in grade school when someone said "come on take a drag it will make you look cool"
    • 2006 August 25, jes.t.er, “Character names”, in alt.games.warcraft[3] (Usenet):
      Is there a way to tell it to pick a diff one by default?

Proper noun[edit]


  1. (computing) A program, historically part of the Unix operating system, which compares two files or sets of files and outputs a description of the differences between them.

See also[edit]