variants, variance

The words variants, variance sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do variants, variance sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: variants, variance are homophones of the English language.

variance
  1. :: noun

    The act of varying.

  2. :: noun

    The state or quality of being variant or variable; a variation.

  3. :: noun

    A difference between what is expected and what actually occurs.

  4. :: noun

    The state or fact of differing or of being in conflict. See Synonyms at discord.

variants
  1. :: noun

    Plural form of variant.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").