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varietyποικĩλία (gr.); varietas (lat.); variété (fr.); Varietät (ger.)

  • 1) Difference or discrepancy between things or in the same thing at different times, in ancient Latin use especially with respect to colours. (OED 1989)
    mutation
    -45 (BC)

    Varietas enim Latinum verbum est, idque proprie quidem in disparibus coloribus dicitur, sed transfertur in multa disparia: varium poema, varia oratio, varii mores, varia fortuna, voluptas etiam vari dici solet, cum percipitur e multis dissimilibus rebus dissimilis efficientibus voluptates. [‘Variation’ is a good Latin term; we use it strictly of different colours, but it is applied metaphorically to a number of things that differ: we speak of a varied poem, a varied speech, a varied character, varied fortunes. Pleasure too can be termed varied when it is derived from a number of unlike things producing unlike feelings of pleasure.]

    Cicero (45 BC). De finibus bonorum et malorum II, 3, 10 [Engl. transl. by H. Rackham, Cambridge, Mass. 1931].

    77 AD

    concharum genera, in quibus magna ludentis natura varietas [the varieties of shell-fish […] display in great variety nature’s love of sport]

    Pliny (77 AD). Naturalis historia IX, 102 [Engl. transl. by H. Rackham, Cambridge, Mass. 1940].

    c. 100 AD

    γράψας τοίνυν ἐν τοῖς περὶ Φύσεως ὅτι πολλὰ τῶν ζῴων ἕνεκα κάλλους ἡ φύσις ἐνήνοχε, φιλοκαλοῦσα καὶ χαίρουσα τῇ ποικιλίᾳ καὶ λόγον ἐπειπὼν παραλογώτατον ὡς ‘ὁ ταὼς ἕνεκα τῆς οὐρᾶς γέγονε διὰ τὸ κάλλος αὐτῆς’ […] φιλοκαλεῖν δὲ τὴν φύσιν τῇ ποικιλίᾳ χαίρουσαν [Moreover, [Chrysippus, 3rd cent. BC] having in his book of Nature written, that Nature has produced many creatures for the sake of beauty, delighting in pulchritude and pleasing herself with variety, and having added a most absurd expression, that the peacock was made for the sake of his tail and for the beauty of it; […] Nature, rejoicing in variety, takes delight in the production of fair creatures]

    Plutarch (c. 100 AD). De Stoicorum repugnantiis 1044d [Engl. transl. corrected and revised by W.W. Goodwin, 1874].

    c. 1500

    per tal variar natura è bella

    Serafino dell’Aquila (c. 1500). Sonetto 57 (Opera, Vinegia 1544): civ.

    c. 1700

    Perfectio […] est […] in forma seu varietate.

    Leibniz, G.W. (c. 1700). [Die Hauptlehrsätze der Leibnizischen Philosophie betreffend]. (Philosophische Schriften, ed. C.I. Gerhardt, vol. 7, Berlin 1890, 289-291): 290.

    1734

    Das Glück der Sterblichen will die Verschiedenheit

    Haller, A. von (1734). Über den Ursprung des Übels (Versuch schweizerischer Gedichte, Zürich 1768, 56-81): 71.

    1749

    Le premier obstacle qui se présente dans l’étude de l’Histoire naturelle, vient de cette grande multitude d’objets; mais la variété de ces mêmes objets, & la difficulté de rassembler les productions diverses des différens climats forment un autre obsacle à l’avancement de nos connoisances, qui paroît invincible

    Buffon, G.L.L. (1749). Histoire générale des animaux. In: Histoire naturelle générale et particulière, vol. 1: 4-5 (Premier discours).

    1845

    Variety is essential to beauty, and is so inseparable from it that there can be no beauty where there is no variety

    Harding, J.D. (1845). The Principles and Practice of Art: 39.

    1958

    I believe that conservation should mean the keeping or putting in the landscape of the greatest possible ecological variety – in the world, in every continent or island, and so far as practicable in every district. And provided the native species have their place, I see no reason why the reconstitution of communities to make them rich and interesting and stable should not include a careful selection of exotic forms, especially as many of these are in any case going to arrive in due course and occupy some niche.

    Elton, C. (1958). Ecology of Invasions: 155.

  • 2) A taxonomic subdivision of a species consisting of naturally occurring or selectively bred populations or individuals that differ from the remainder of the species in certain minor characteristics, also: An organism, especially a plant, belonging to such a subdivision. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
    species
    1596
    Tuliparum varietates
    Bauhin, C. (1596). Phytopinax seu Enumeratio plantarum ab herbarijs nostro seculo: 91.
    1596
    Verùm tantus est naturæ lusus in Graminibus, ut præter varietates à priscis & neotericis propositas, plures adhuc dentur species
    Bauhin, C. (1596). Phytopinax seu Enumeratio plantarum ab herbarijs nostro seculo: 2.
    1629
    Many more sorts of varieties of these kindes [of Wolfsbanes, Aconitum] there are, but these onely […] are noursed up in Florists Gardens for pleasure
    Parkinson, J. (1629). Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris, or A Garden of all Sorts of Pleasant Flowers: 215.
    1668
    there may have been divers new varieties generated of the same Species
    Hooke, R. (1668). A Discourse of Earthquakes (The Posthumous Work, London 1705, 279-450): 327.
    1674

    Diversity of colour in the flower, or taste in the fruit, is no better note of specific difference in plants, than the like varieties of hair or skin, or taste of flesh in animals […] such varieties, both in animals and plants, being occasioned either by diversity of climate, and temperature of the air, or of nourishment and manener of living.

    Ray, J. (1674). A discourse on the specific differences in plants (in: Gunther, R.W.T. (ed.). Further Correspondence of John Ray, London 1928, 77-83): 80.

    1721

    To make Varieties of them, the Seeds of the best single ones […] are to be sown in September.

    Mortimer, J. (1721). The Whole Art of Husbandry, or, the Way of Managing and Improving of Land 2nd ed.: 217.

    1751
    varietates […] tot sunt, quot differentes plantæ ex ejusdem speciei […] semine sunt productæ. Varietas est planta mutata a caussa accidentali: Climate, Solo, Calore, Ventis, &c. reducitur itaque in solo mutato.
    Linné, C. von (1751). Philosophia botanica: 100 (§158).
    1779

    [Es] findet sich bey Thieren und Pflanzen derselben Art, sehr oft in Rücksicht ihrer Bildung, Größe, Farbe etc. so viel Verschiedenheit, daß sie zuweilen leicht für besondre Gattungen angesehn werden können. Solche Abweichungen nennt man Spielarten, Varietäten; und sie sind Folge der Ausartung, Degeneration, die aus verschiedenen Quellen hergeleitet werden muß.

    Blumenbach, J.F. (1779). Handbuch der Naturgeschichte: 28.

    1784
    Spielarten. Abarten, Varietates. Sind solche Pflanzen, die nicht immer aus ihres gleichen entspringen, und nicht allzeit wieder ihres gleichen hervorbringen; die, ungeachtet sie ganz gewiß von einerlei Stammältern sind, dennoch einander in gewissen Stücken unähnlich sind, so wie z.B. die Kinder von eben demselben Vater gezeuget, und von eben derselben Mutter geboren, zuweilen gelbe, rothe und schwarze Haare, u.s.w. haben, und also Spielarten sind
    Ehrhart, F. (1784). Botanische Bemerkungen. Hannoverisches Magazin 22, 113-128; 129-144; 161-176: 170.
    1788

    Eine Varietät ist die erbliche Eigenthümlichkeit, die nicht klassifisch ist, weil sie sich nicht unausbleiblich fortpflanzt; denn eine solche Beharrlichkeit des erblichen Charakters wird erfordert, um selbst für die Naturbeschreibung nur zur Classeneintheilung zu berechtigen.

    Kant, I. (1788). Über den Gebrauch teleologischer Principien in der Philosophie (AA, vol. VIII, 157-184): 165.

    1798

    La collection de tous les corps organisés nés les uns des autres, ou de parens communs, et de tous ceux qui leur ressemblent autant qu’ils se ressemblent entre eux, est appelée une espèce. Les corps organisés qui ne diffèrent ou ne paraissent différer d’une espèce que par des causes accidentelles, semblables à celles énoncées ci-dessus, passent pour des variétés de cette espèce.

    Cuvier, G. (1798). Tableau élémentaire de l’histoire naturelle des animaux: 11-12.

    1813
    variétés locales […] variétés permanentes par extension […] variétés permanentes par les graines
    Candolle, A.-P. de (1813). Théorie élémentaire de la botanique: 168-170 (§133-135).
    1858
    permanent and geographical varieties
    Wallace, A.R. (1858). Note on the theory of permanent and geographical varieties. The Zoologist 16, 5887-5888.
    1859

    species are only strongly marked and permanent varieties, and [...] each species first existed as a variety

    Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species: 469.

    1891

    Die Bezeichnung „Varietät“ ist unthunlich, denn sie bezeichnet „eine unbeständige oder nicht unveränderliche Verschiedenheit, die durch einen zufälligen Wechsel hervorgebracht ist“ und ist in diesem Sinne für Albinismen, Melanismen, Erythrismen, abnorme Schnabelbildung und dergleichen zu verwenden und gleichbedeutend mit Aberration, eine Bezeichnung, die wir nicht erst einzuführen brauchen.

    Hartert, E. (1891). Katalog der Vogelsammlung im Museum der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main: xv.

    1903

    We distinguish three categories of varieties, namely: I. Individual variety.—The following terms are employed by us : (1) ab. = aberratio for individuals which stand outside the normal range of variation. (2) f. = forma in the case of di- and polymorphism. […] II. Generatorory variety — This variety is seasonal in Lepidoptera […] III. Geographical variety or subspecies.

    Rothschild, W. & Jordan, K. (1903). A revision of the lepidopterous family Sphingidae: xliii.

    1982

    variety 1: A rank in the hierarchy of botanical classification; the principal category between species and form; see Appendix 102: An infrasubspecific taxon, such as varietas or cultivar; an ambiguous term often used for any variant group within a species; a group that differs from other varieties of the same subspecies including non-genetic variants and microgeographic races.

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 258.

Fitzgerald, W. (2016). Variety. The Life of a Roman Concept.