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I looked up differential, but still don't savvy why the books below use 'differential' rather than 'different' and vice versa.

Advanced Organic Chemistry: Part A: Structure and Mechanisms by Francis A. Carey, Richard J. Sundberg. p 211.

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Electroanalytical Chemistry: A Series of Advances edited by Allen J. Bard. p 195.

enter image description here Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics - E-Book by Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns. p 519.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belongs on an English Language site. The dictionary entry linked has the correct definition. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jan 8 '20 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster I disagree. It is true the dictionary has the correct definition. But the OP's challenge was, I believe, specifically in how to understand the definition in the context of its application to chemistry. $\endgroup$ – theorist Jan 9 '20 at 1:38
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"Differential" is a compact way of saying "difference between the" (or its equivalent). For instance, in your first example, where the author writes "Chromatographic separations result from the differential interactions of the enantiomers...", what's meant is "Chromatographic separations result from the difference between the interactions of the [two] enantiomers...".

I.e., chromatographic separation results from the fact that there is a difference between how the two different enantiomers react with the stationary phase (the solid column packing material).

The first definition given in your link applies here: "Of, showing, or depending on a difference; varying according to circumstances or relevant factors."

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  • $\begingroup$ Still, I would have written "from the different interactions of....". At least for the first example given the question is more suitable for English SE. The other instances refer to the techniques not the different behavior, so they might have wanted to say that more specifically, like in differential scanning calorimetry etc. English is not my tongue, though. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Jan 8 '20 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ I would use differential when there is a quantitative (perhaps subtle) difference, not necessarily a quantitative difference (for the chromatography, if I say different interactions, I would expect different types of interactions, but if I say differential, I would mean different chromatographic behavior because the strength of the interactions are not the same). $\endgroup$ – Karsten Theis Jan 8 '20 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ @KarstenTheis I would describe that as a personal choice, since the term can be applied to both quantitative and qualitative differences. As an example of the latter, consider "differential diagnosis": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_diagnosis $\endgroup$ – theorist Jan 9 '20 at 1:43

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