Is there any difference between someone being wealthy and someone being rich?
For instance, is Bill Gates rich or wealthy? Or maybe he is both. I don't get the subtle difference if any.
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However, you can see rich has various usages other than abundance of money. They can be found in the Oxford Dictionary hyperlink I have attached.
There's also implications of social class in "Wealthy" that aren't as common with "Rich".
In other words:
If you say that Bill Gates is rich, you are saying he has lots of money.
If you say that Bill Gates is wealthy, you are saying that he is rich, & that he grew up with lots of money.
A thesaurus at YourDictionary.com explains the difference as:
rich is the general word for one who has more money, possessions, or income-producing property than is necessary to satisfy normal needs; wealthy adds to this connotation of grand living, influence in the community, a tradition of richness, etc.
William Safire, in a 1990 column, puts it as, "a rich family has to wait until its money ages before it becomes a wealthy family."
In terms of money, rich is used to describe someone who has a certain amount of money/liquid capital (it's relative, however much money makes you 'rich' in my eyes, might not necessarily make you 'rich' in the eyes of Bill Gates). Wealthy is also used in this way, however it is commonly used to describe someone who is beyond rich with just money alone (liquid cash, businesses, investments, etc) so to give an example, your favorite musician might be rich, but Bill Gates or Donald Trump would be considered wealthy.
There is a big difference. When I was younger I thought they were the same, until Magic Johnson gave a interview. He stated that there is a big difference between the two. Even though I do not remember what he said word-for-word, I will always remember the gist of what he said. To paraphrase:
Wealthy is being able to provide for your family generations after your death (sustained money) and being rich is short-lived.
I am 33 years old I have never forgotten that. Me, personally, I want to be wealthy. Please GOD I have been praying and LORD I beg you make me wealthy, no matter what. Amen
There are some good answers here, but I'd like to point out yet another aspect.
Wealthy may suggest a person who has enough money for their needs.
At the same time, rich may connote someone who is demonstrating their money (sometimes, in an exaggerate way).
In this regard, I would say, Bill Gates, who's spending a lot of his earnings to charity, is wealthy, while the person from an image below is rich.
It is also worth noting that "wealthy" is a much politer way of saying that someone has a lot of money than "rich" is. Often, this is a topic that should be talked about with some caution.
So for example: