What Does Difference Mean in Math?

by | Nov 13, 2023

Mathematics can become quickly confusing as new concepts are introduced as students progress through higher and higher math courses. So what does difference mean in math? Well to put it shortly, the difference is the result of subtracting two or more separate numbers from each other. Let’s take a look at an example:

Example Problems

12 – 10 = 2

In this example, you would subtract 12 from 10 which results in a difference of 2. It can also be worded as the difference between 12 and 10 is 2. Word problems can use this terminology to try and trick you with how it’s worded. Take the following as an example:

Timmy has 14 apples after going to the apple orchard. Savannah, Timmy’s sister eats 4 of his apples later that day. What’s the difference in apples that Timmy now has after Savannah has eaten some of the apples? 

This word problem attempts to stump the solver by using a scenario to make it sound more complicated than it really is. After analyzing the word problem, it’s important to write out the equation. The equation would be as follows:

14 – 4 = ?

14 – 4 = 10

The difference is 10

It’s important when faced with a word problem to read it slowly and multiple times if needed. Often the solution is more simple than you think, and they’re trying to trip you up.

What’s the Difference?

So now you should be able to answer the question of what does difference mean in math? Keep in mind that word problems can be intentionally confusing but it’s important to remember what difference means. Often times if you reread the word problem or read it slowly, you can better understand what it’s trying to ask of you. If you are still struggling to wrap your mind around this concept, we recommend checking out our tutors for help on a variety of different subjects! You can schedule a tutoring session HERE.


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