A variant is an alternative form of the domain name. The most common example is if you register a Chinese domain name which is Chinese character has two scripts for the same character, simplified and traditional. Someone may have already registered the simplified version of a domain, preventing you from registering the traditional version.
Registrants typically register domain names that have meaning in their own language such as a name, word or phrase. However, a single script may be used by more than one language. As a result, a domain name may have different meanings in the context of other languages or cultures. The variant phenomenon has been classified into four different categories: character, orthographic, lexemic, and contextual variants.