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Variable vs. Attribute: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 3, 2024
A variable is an element, feature, or factor that is liable to change, often in a scientific or computational context, while an attribute is a quality, feature, or characteristic ascribed to someone or something.
Variable vs. Attribute

Key Differences

Variables are often used in mathematical, scientific, and programming contexts to represent changeable data or elements. Attributes, on the other hand, generally refer to inherent or assigned qualities of objects, people, or concepts.
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Jan 03, 2024
In mathematics and science, a variable represents a quantity that can assume different values. In contrast, an attribute in these fields often refers to a specific property or characteristic of a subject or an object.
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Jan 03, 2024
In programming, a variable is a storage location paired with an associated symbolic name, which contains some known or unknown quantity of information. Conversely, an attribute in programming often refers to a property or characteristic ascribed to an object, defining its state or traits.
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In language, a variable can be a word or symbol that represents a changeable amount, while an attribute is used to describe a quality or characteristic of a noun or pronoun, often used in the form of an adjective.
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Variables are inherently changeable and are expected to take on multiple values. Attributes, while they can vary, often refer to more stable and defining qualities of an entity.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

An element that can change or vary
A quality or characteristic of something
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Usage in Science

Represents changing quantities or conditions
Describes inherent properties
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Usage in Programming

A named storage for data that may change
A property or quality of a programming object
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Linguistic Role

Symbolic representation in equations or formulas
Descriptive quality, often used as an adjective
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Stability

Expected to change
Generally more constant or defining
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Variable and Attribute Definitions

Variable

A symbol used in mathematics to represent a number.
In algebra, a variable can take on any value.
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Attribute

A characteristic or quality of a person, place, or thing.
Kindness is an attribute I admire in my friends.
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Variable

An element that is subject to change.
The variable x in the equation represented an unknown quantity.
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Attribute

In programming, a specification that defines a property of an object, element, or file.
The 'color' attribute was used to set the background color of the webpage.
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Variable

Likely to change or vary; subject to variation; changeable.
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Attribute

An inherent or distinguishing characteristic of a product or item.
Durability is an important attribute of this brand's products.
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Variable

Inconstant; fickle.
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Attribute

A descriptor or qualifier assigned to a noun or pronoun.
In the phrase blue sky, 'blue' is an attribute describing the sky.
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Variable

(Biology) Tending to exhibit genetic variation or variation in a physical trait
Geographically variable color patterns.
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Attribute

To regard as arising from a particular cause or source; ascribe
Attributed their failure to a lack of preparation.
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Variable

(Mathematics) Having no fixed quantitative value.
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Attribute

To regard (a work, for example) as belonging to or produced by a specified agent, place, or time
Attributed the painting to Titian.
Attributed the vase to 18th-century Japan.
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Variable

Something that varies or is prone to variation.
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Attribute

A quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.
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Variable

(Astronomy) A variable star.
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Attribute

An object associated with and serving to identify a character, personage, or office
Lightning bolts are an attribute of Zeus.
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Variable

A quantity capable of assuming any of a set of values.
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Attribute

(Grammar) A word or phrase syntactically subordinate to another word or phrase that it modifies; for example, my sister's and brown in my sister's brown dog.
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Variable

A symbol representing such a quantity. For example, in the expression a2 + b2 = c2, a,b, and c are variables.
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Attribute

A characteristic or quality of a thing.
His finest attribute is his kindness.
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Variable

Able to vary or be varied.
Variable winds or seasons; a variable quantity; a variable resistor
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Attribute

An object that is considered typical of someone or some function, in particular as an artistic convention.
The eagle and the bolt of lightning are attributes of Jove.
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Variable

Likely to vary.
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Attribute

(grammar) A word that qualifies a noun.
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Variable

Marked by diversity or difference.
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Attribute

(logic) That which is predicated or affirmed of a subject; a predicate; an accident.
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Variable

(mathematics) Having no fixed quantitative value.
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Attribute

An option or setting belonging to some object.
This packet has its coherency attribute set to zero.
A file with the read-only attribute set cannot be overwritten.
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Variable

(biology) Tending to deviate from a normal or recognized type.
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Attribute

(programming) A semantic item with which a method or other code element may be decorated.
Properties can be marked as obsolete with an attribute, which will cause the compiler to generate a warning if they are used.
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Variable

Something that is variable.
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Attribute

In a Nutshell|page=536
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Variable

Something whose value may be dictated or discovered.
There are several variables to consider here.
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Attribute

A numeric value representing the colours of part of the screen display.
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Variable

(mathematics) A symbol representing a variable.
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Attribute

To ascribe (something) to a given cause, reason etc.
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Variable

(programming) A named memory location in which a program can store intermediate results and from which it can read them.
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Attribute

To associate ownership or authorship of (something) to someone.
This poem is attributed to Browning.
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Variable

(astronomy) A variable star.
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Attribute

To ascribe; to consider (something) as due or appropriate (to); to refer, as an effect to a cause; to impute; to assign; to consider as belonging (to).
We attribute nothing to God that hath any repugnancy or contradiction in it.
The merit of service is seldom attributed to the true and exact performer.
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Variable

(nautical) A shifting wind, or one that varies in force.
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Attribute

That which is attributed; a quality which is considered as belonging to, or inherent in, a person or thing; an essential or necessary property or characteristic.
But mercy is above this sceptered away; . . .It is an attribute to God himself.
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Variable

Those parts of the sea where a steady wind is not expected, especially the parts between the trade-wind belts.
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Attribute

Reputation.
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Variable

Having the capacity of varying or changing; capable of alternation in any manner; changeable; as, variable winds or seasons; a variable quantity.
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Attribute

A conventional symbol of office, character, or identity, added to any particular figure; as, a club is the attribute of Hercules.
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Variable

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 variable.
His heart, I know, how variable and vain!
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Attribute

Quality, etc., denoted by an attributive; an attributive adjunct or adjective.
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Variable

That which is variable; that which varies, or is subject to change.
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Attribute

A construct whereby objects or individuals can be distinguished;
Self-confidence is not an endearing property
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Variable

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 variables.
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Attribute

An abstraction belonging to or characteristic of an entity
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Variable

A shifting wind, or one that varies in force.
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Attribute

Attribute or credit to;
We attributed this quotation to Shakespeare
People impute great cleverness to cats
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Variable

Something that is likely to vary; something that is subject to variation;
The weather is one variable to be considered
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Attribute

Decide as to where something belongs in a scheme;
The biologist assigned the mushroom to the proper class
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Variable

A quantity that can assume any of a set of values
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Attribute

A feature used to describe an aspect of a dataset in statistics or research.
One of the key attributes of the dataset was the range of ages it covered.
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Dec 19, 2023

Variable

A star that varies noticeably in brightness
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Variable

A symbol (like x or y) that is used in mathematical or logical expressions to represent a variable quantity
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Variable

Liable to or capable of change;
Rainfall in the tropics is notoriously variable
Variable winds
Variable expenses
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Variable

Marked by diversity or difference;
The varying angles of roof slope
Nature is infinitely variable
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Variable

(used of a device) designed so that a property (as e.g. light) can be varied;
A variable capacitor
Variable filters in front of the mercury xenon lights
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Variable

In programming, a named unit of data that can be altered as the program runs.
The variable 'score' was incremented each time the player scored a point.
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Variable

A factor in an experiment that can be changed.
Temperature was the variable being tested in the experiment.
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Variable

Any aspect, characteristic, or factor that can assume different values in a study or research.
Age and income were variables in the demographic survey.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are attributes always visible or tangible?

Not always; some attributes can be conceptual or abstract.
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Jan 03, 2024

Can variables have constant values?

While variables are meant to change, they can temporarily hold constant values.
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Jan 03, 2024

What is a variable in mathematics?

It's a symbol representing a quantity that can change or vary.
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Jan 03, 2024

Are attributes unique to an object?

They can be unique but often describe common qualities shared by a group.
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Is a variable always numerical?

No, variables can represent non-numerical values, especially in programming.
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How is an attribute used in programming?

It's a property or characteristic defined for a programming object.
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Jan 03, 2024

Do attributes change over time?

Some can, but many are considered inherent and relatively stable.
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How do variables impact scientific experiments?

Variables are manipulated or measured to observe effects in experiments.
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Can a variable be a physical object?

Usually, it's a symbol or name representing a changeable element, not a physical object.
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Jan 03, 2024

Are all variables independent?

No, variables can be independent, dependent, or even interdependent.
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Are variables used in everyday language?

Yes, though often less formally than in scientific or mathematical contexts.
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Jan 03, 2024

Can a person's mood be considered a variable?

In a psychological study, yes, as it can change and be measured.
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Jan 03, 2024

Can attributes be quantified?

Some can be, like size or weight, while others are more qualitative.
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Can one object have multiple attributes?

Yes, objects can and often do have several attributes.
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Do attributes affect decision-making in business?

Yes, attributes of products or markets often influence business decisions.
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How do attributes relate to branding?

Brand attributes define how a brand is perceived and differentiate it in the market.
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Jan 03, 2024

Do attributes have units of measurement?

Not always; many are descriptive and not measured in units.
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Jan 03, 2024

Are variables and attributes used in statistics?

Yes, both are crucial in statistical analysis for data interpretation.
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Jan 03, 2024

How do attributes enhance understanding in research?

They help identify and classify features or qualities of subjects in a study.
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Jan 03, 2024

Is knowledge of variables important in programming?

Absolutely, as they are fundamental in data manipulation and control flow.
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Jan 03, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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