Difference between Stationary and Stationery

Key Difference: The word ‘Stationary’ refers to standing still, or mainly just not moving. Stationery, on the other hand, refers to writing materials, envelopes, office materials, etc.

StationaryThe terms Stationary and Stationery are often confused together, primarily because the terms look and sound so similar; they are off by only one letter. However, the two mean something completely different and due to this are often used incorrectly. These kinds of words are referred to as homophones, i.e. words that look and sound similar, but have different meanings.

The word ‘Stationary’ refers to standing still, or mainly just not moving. Hence the used of the term in phrases such as stationary bike, or stationary vehicle. Anything that is standing still, i.e. not moving is considered to be ‘Stationary’.

Stationery, on the other hand, refers to writing materials, envelopes, office materials, etc. Stationery can refer to anything and everything that can be purchased at a stationery shop or at a shop that sells office supplies. Some common examples of stationery include pens, pencils, envelopes, writing paper, markers, ink, etc.

The confusion between the two terms arises from the fact that the terms both originate from the same term, i.e. from Latin stationarius. The term originally meant ‘belonging to a military station.’ Latin statio(n-), originally meant ‘to stand’; hence the idea of standing, i.e. not moving. However, overtime the term also came to be used of a bookseller who had a fixed station, especially at universities. Eventually this developed into the term, ‘stationer’ i.e. a person or business that sells books and writing supplies, and finally developed into stationery referring to the writing supplies themselves.

StationeryAdditionally, the term stationery is a noun which is used to refer to supplies and materials, whereas stationary is an adjective. An adjective is a descriptive term, i.e. a term that is used to describe something else, in this case it describes the action of something, or the lack of action to be precise.

Comparison between Stationary and Stationery:

 

Stationary

Stationery

Definition (Oxford Dictionary)

Not moving or not intended to be moved.

Not changing in quantity or condition.

Writing and other office materials.

Type

Adjective

Noun

Description

Describes the condition of an object, i.e. the fact that it is not moving and is standing still.

It a term used to refer to writing materials, paper supplies, etc.

Etymology

Late Middle English: from Latin stationarius (originally in the sense ‘belonging to a military station’), from statio(n-) ‘standing’ (see station).

From Medieval Latin statiōnārius, used of a bookseller who had a fixed station, especially at universities.

Reference: Oxford Dictionaries (1, 2, 3), Wikitionary (1, 2, 3)
Image Courtesy: differencebtw.com, kenresearch.com

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