In the both sentences bellow, for me both the words 'realm' and 'domain' work in AmE. I need your confirmation; do you agree that these two words mean the same in each one of the examples bellow and using each one would not change the meaning of the sentence in the following senses:

  • This question can be answered in the realm / domain of psychology.

  • On the internet you can find everything in the realm / domain of medicine.

  • I'm not a native, neither sure, but if I were you I would have used "scope". – M.A.R. Jan 12 '15 at 13:10
  • No. First there are no true synonyms. This is true in the phrases you create here. The 'realm of medicine' and the 'domain of medicine' do not have the same meaning in your sentence. In my opinion, realm (meaning 'sphere') works better in both sentences; domain calls to mind a more physical kingdom. Or at least it does not as easily correspond to sphere for me. It is a question of context which word sounds better. Words have a symbiotic relationship to their context and are not wooden pegs to neatly pound into any available hole without a subtle shift in meaning happening. – user6951 Jan 12 '15 at 13:57
  • Thank you @CarSmack; but I heard that 'realm of psychology' and 'domain of medicine' are two fixed expressions! :-/ It sounds a little puzzling to me now! :-( – A-friend Jan 12 '15 at 16:02
  • The sentence also is not constructed well: On the internet you can find everything in the domain of medicine can mean that everything on the internet falls within or under medicine's domain. – user6951 Jan 12 '15 at 19:11
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    @CarSmack On this forum, I generally avoid commenting on the truthfulness of statements used as examples. There have been plenty of examples given from articles about politics or religion that I totally disagree with, and I try to just keep my mouth shut on the underlying subject and discuss the grammar. (Though, I admit, I do occasionally deviate from that principle.) :-) – Jay Jan 12 '15 at 20:18

We're apparently getting some disagreement on this one.

I'd say either "realm" or "domain" works in both your sentences. In either case it's something of a metaphor: "realm" and "domain" both literally mean "an area ruled over", like you could say, "This is the realm of the king of England" or "This is the domain of the king of England."

If you look at thefreedictionary.com, in the second definition of "realm" they give the example "realm of science", and the second definition of "domain" they give the example "domain of history". Both sound to me like exactly the same idea you are trying to convey.

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  • "Domain" might be a little more explicit in terms of the "king's" governance, but I agree that both work fine in both AmE and BrE. – wordsmythe Jan 12 '15 at 18:58

You can technically use "realm" or "domain" in either of these sentences, but the word "realm" suggests something like a kingdom, such as "knights of the realm". It has an old British feel.

"Domain" on the other hand is used more often and is more benign. It suggests a more mathematical or scientific scope.

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"Realm" and "Domain" have technical meanings in the "field" of computer networking (including the Internet).

In both of your examples, "field" makes more sense than "realm" or "domain".

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