Meaning of différance in English:


(also differance)

Pronunciation /ˌdɪfɛːˈrɑːns/ /ˌdiːfɛːˈrɒ̃ns/


Philosophy Literature
  • In the philosophy of Jacques Derrida: the impossibility of any sign within a system of signs having a fixed meaning; the process by which meaning is endlessly deferred from one sign to another within such a system.

    In contrast with Saussurean linguistics, which proposes that the meaning of any sign derives from its place in a system of differences or contrasts within a network of possible choices, Derrida argues that any given sign can refer only to other signs, with any ultimately determined meaning being indefinitely deferred by this continual reference to an endless sequence of other signs.


1960s; earliest use found in The Times Literary Supplement. From French différance from différer to postpone, defer, also to differ + -ance, punningly after the homophone différence difference.