The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Variety \Va*ri"e*ty\, n.; pl. Varieties. [L. varietas: cf. F.
vari['e]t['e]. See Various.]
1. The quality or state of being various; intermixture or
succession of different things; diversity;
Variety is nothing else but a continued novelty.
The variety of colors depends upon the composition
of light. --Sir I.
For earth hath this variety from heaven. --Milton.
There is a variety in the tempers of good men.
2. That which is various. Specifically:
(a) A number or collection of different things; a varied
assortment; as, a variety of cottons and silks.
He . . . wants more time to do that variety of
good which his soul thirsts after. --Law.
(b) Something varying or differing from others of the same
general kind; one of a number of things that are akin;
a sort; as, varieties of wood, land, rocks, etc.
(c) (Biol.) An individual, or group of individuals, of a
species differing from the rest in some one or more of
the characteristics typical of the species, and
capable either of perpetuating itself for a period, or
of being perpetuated by artificial means; hence, a
subdivision, or peculiar form, of a species.
Note: Varieties usually differ from species in that any two,
however unlike, will generally propagate indefinitely
(unless they are in their nature unfertile, as some
varieties of rose and other cultivated plants); in
being a result of climate, food, or other extrinsic
conditions or influences, but generally by a sudden,
rather than a gradual, development; and in tending in
many cases to lose their distinctive peculiarities when
the individuals are left to a state of nature, and
especially if restored to the conditions that are
natural to typical individuals of the species. Many
varieties of domesticated animals and of cultivated
plants have been directly produced by man.
(d) In inorganic nature, one of those forms in which a
species may occur, which differ in minor
characteristics of structure, color, purity of
Note: These may be viewed as variations from the typical
species in its most perfect and purest form, or, as is
more commonly the case, all the forms, including the
latter, may rank as Varieties. Thus, the sapphire is a
blue variety, and the ruby a red variety, of corundum;
again, calcite has many Varieties differing in form and
structure, as Iceland spar, dogtooth spar, satin spar,
and also others characterized by the presence of small
quantities of magnesia, iron, manganese, etc. Still
again, there are varieties of granite differing in
structure, as graphic granite, porphyritic granite, and
other varieties differing in composition, as albitic
granite, hornblendic, or syenitic, granite, etc.
3. (Theaters) Such entertainment as in given in variety
shows; the production of, or performance in, variety
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
Geographical variety (Biol.), a variety of any species
which is coincident with a geographical region, and is
usually dependent upon, or caused by, peculiarities of
Variety hybrid (Biol.), a cross between two individuals of
different varieties of the same species; a mongrel.
Syn: Diversity; difference; kind.
Usage: Variety, Diversity. A man has a variety of
employments when he does many things which are not a
mere repetition of the same act; he has a diversity of
employments when the several acts performed are unlike
each other, that is, diverse. In most cases, where
there is variety there will be more or less of
diversity, but not always. One who sells railroad
tickets performs a great variety of acts in a day,
while there is but little diversity in his employment.
All sorts are here that all the earth yields!
Variety without end. --Milton.
But see in all corporeal nature's scene,
What changes, what diversities, have been!