make a difference


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

make a difference

to have an effect It is exciting to do something that really makes a difference in your community. People don't realize that their vote can make a difference.
Usage notes: often used in the form make no difference: It makes no difference to me if the game is televised or not.
See also: difference, make

make a difference

1. Distinguish or discriminate. This phrase appears in the Bible (Leviticus 11:47): "To make a difference between the unclean and the clean." [Late 1500s]
2. Also, make the difference. Cause a change in effect, change the nature of something, as in His score on this test will make the difference between passing and failing, or These curtains sure make a difference in the lighting.
3. Be important, matter, as in Her volunteer work made a difference in many lives. The antonym of this usage is make no difference, as in It makes no difference to me if we go immediately or in an hour. This usage appeared long ago in slightly different versions. Miles Coverdale's translation of the Bible of 1535 had it is no difference, and the converse, it makes great difference, was first recorded about 1470.
See also: difference, make