I looked up the free dictionary, under symmetric it said another word for symmetrical. But which one is more common? Any other possible distinctions?


Here's one possible distinction I can think of.

  • symmetric applies in particular to relations: A is to B as B is to A, A does C to B and B does C to A, and so on. There is some kind of symmetric relation between A and B.

  • symmetrical applies in particular to objects: a circle is symmetrical radially, that's a symmetrical vase.

(Note: possible distinction. This does not mean that you cannot use either here - you can.)

Well, that's what occurs to me. However, this ngram suggests that the first bullet is no longer so relevant as it once was.

This ngram does support the second bullet somewhat.

|improve this answer|||||
  • I think you messed it up the order of symmetric and symmetrical. Can you look at your answer again plz? I'm not sure if you made a mistake or not – pxc3110 Sep 18 '14 at 14:39
  • Sorry, I don't understand. Are you asking whether I really meant to swap symmetric and symmetrical in the two bullet descriptions, so that, for example, symmetrical is especially about relations and symmetric is especially about objects? If so, then no; I meant what is written. – Drew Sep 18 '14 at 16:13

No much difference. WordWebOnline suggests 'symmetrical' as a synonym or a variant of 'symmetric'.

symmetric - Having similarity in size, shape, and relative position of corresponding parts

|improve this answer|||||

symmetric seems to be primarily used in math contexts.

symmetrical is the adjective form of the noun symmetry.

To say more requires more context in your question.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.