Little is known about the way that teachers articulate notions of variation in their own words. The study reported here was conducted with 17 prospective secondary math and science teachers enrolled in a preservice teacher education course which engaged them in statistical inquiry of testing data. This qualitative study examines how these preservice teachers articulated notions of variation as they compared two distributions. Although the teachers made use of standard statistical language, they also expressed rich views of variation through nonstandard terminology. This paper details the statistical language used by the prospective teachers, categorizing both standard and nonstandard expressions. Their nonstandard language revealed strong relationships between expressions of variation and expressions of distribution. Implications and the benefits of nonstandard language in statistics are outlined.