From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Variable \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.
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   2. Liable to vary; too susceptible of change; mutable;
      fickle; unsteady; inconstant; as, the affections of men
      are variable; passions are variable.
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            Lest that thy love prove likewise variable. --Shak.
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            His heart, I know, how variable and vain! --Milton.
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   Variable exhaust (Steam Eng.), a blast pipe with an
      adjustable opening.

   Variable quantity (Math.), a variable.

   Variable-rate mortgage (Finance), a mortgage whose
      percentage interest rate varies depending on some agreed
      standard, such as the prime rate; -- used often in
      financing the purchase of a home. Such a mortgage usually
      has a lower initial interest rate than a {fixed-rate
      mortgage}, and this permits buyers of a home to finance
      the purchase a house of higher price than would be
      possible with a fixed-rate loan.

   Variable stars (Astron.), fixed stars which vary in their
      brightness, usually in more or less uniform periods.
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   Syn: Changeable; mutable; fickle; wavering; unsteady;
        versatile; inconstant.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Variable \Va"ri*a*ble\, n.
   1. That which is variable; that which varies, or is subject
      to change.
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   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 x^2 - y^2 = R^2, x and y are variables.
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   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
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   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 x^2 - y^2 = R^2, 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
      [1913 Webster]
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