I know that "exhibit" means "display". Also, "exhibition" means "display" ! One can say:

It was the best exhibition of talent i've ever seen.

Is it correct to say this one?

It was the best exhibit of talent i've ever seen.

  1. What's the difference between these two sentences?!
  2. "exhibit" can be a noun itself ! Why make a noun of a noun, like "exhibition"?!
  3. Is there any differences in the usage of "exhibit" as a noun, and "exhibition"?
  • 1
    As far as I'm concerned, this answer on ELU tells it all.
    – None
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 8:29

3 Answers 3


I cannot recall ever having heard exhibit of talent, ngram shows no uses. exhibition of talent is the expression I would expect to use. To my surprise ngram shows that it was a more commonly used phrase 100 years ago than today.

Setting aside the use of exhibit as a verb, considering only the noun usage I would expect to go to an exhibition and see a number of exhibits, each exhibit being a single displayed, catalogued item. When showing our talent as a musician, dancer or athlete we show a series actions that constitute an exhibition of our talent, with many individual facets.


There's really no difference as a noun. Look them up in the dictionary, you'll see they're nearly identical in at least one definition. Generally, if they are singular, either word will suffice. "Exhibition" can be considered the same as "exhibits" (i.e. a plural number of displays), while an "exhibit" is usually just one (display). At least if you're speaking American English, it's not likely anyone would notice if you used the noun either way. Just be aware that "exhibit" is also a verb, while "exhibition" is not.


My intuition says that exhibit has a more concrete, physical meaning than exhibition.

The -tion suffix itself is used for nominalizing verbs, for example:

  • immigrate -> immigration
  • mutate -> mutation
  • act -> action
  • etc.

An exhibit would be a physical display of something - something you can actually visit and look at. Conversely, an exhibition is merely the action of displaying something in a more abstract sense.

So you could hypothetically have an "exhibit of talent", but it would be very peculiar. You could buy tickets for it. Maybe there would be jugglers and things of that nature. It might be advertised in the newspaper. An exhibit has a physical presence that an exhibition doesn't have. An exhibition might occur in a physical space, but it is not physical itself.

So I think the second sentence "It was the best exhibit of talent I've ever seen." is feasible and possible, but strange and why you won't find any usage of that phrase.

Another example of something similar would be the difference between a proposal and a proposition.

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