Va"ri*a*ble (?), a. [L. variabilis:
cf. F. variable.]
1. Having the capacity of varying or changing;
capable of alternation in any manner; changeable; as, variable winds
or seasons; a variable quantity.
2. Liable to vary; too susceptible of change;
mutable; fickle; unsteady; inconstant; as, the affections of men are
variable; passions are variable.
Lest that thy love prove likewise
His heart, I know, how variable and
Variable exhaust (Steam Eng.), a blast pipe
with an adjustable opening. -- Variable quantity
(Math.), a variable. -- Variable stars
(Astron.), fixed stars which vary in their brightness, usually
in more or less uniform periods.
Syn. -- Changeable; mutable; fickle; wavering; unsteady;
Va"ri*a*ble, n. 1. That
which is variable; that which varies, or is subject to change.
2. (Math.) A quantity which may increase or
decrease; a quantity which admits of an infinite number of values in the
same expression; a variable quantity; as, in the equation x2
- y2 = R2, x and y are
3. (Naut.) (a) A shifting
wind, or one that varies in force. (b) pl.
Those parts of the sea where a steady wind is not expected, especially
the parts between the trade-wind belts.
Independent variable (Math.), that one of
two or more variables, connected with each other in any way whatever, to
which changes are supposed to be given at will. Thus, in the equation
x2 - y2 = R2, if arbitrary changes
are supposed to be given to x, then x is the independent
variable, and y is called a function of x. There
may be two or more independent variables in an equation or problem. Cf.
Dependent variable, under Dependent.