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Because of their similar definitions, could you tell me how they are used in different contexts?

The definition of the word nimble from MacMillan Dictionary:

  1. able to move quickly and easily
    Synonyms and related words
    Words used to describe fast movement: fast, quick, swift...

  2. someone who has a nimble mind is intelligent and learns things quickly
    Synonyms and related words
    Words used to describe intelligent or wise people: genius, intelligent, wise...


The definition of the word agile from MacMillan Dictionary:

  1. able to move quickly and easily
    The ferret is an agile hunter.
    Synonyms and related words
    Words used to describe fast movement: fast, quick, swift...

  2. able to think quickly, solve problems, and have new ideas
    an agile mind
    Synonyms and related words
    Words used to describe intelligent or wise people: genius, intelligent, wise...

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    This is matter for several questions, not one; and they're all of a sort most conveniently answered with a good dictionary. If that leaves you in any doubt, you may click on the edit link above to revise your question, citing what you find in the dictionary and addressing more specific issues. Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 0:06
  • @StoneyB Could you chek the question out again please
    – Mrt
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 21:47
  • These are really close in meaning. A horse, a person, an athlete, etc. can be agile and nimble. This is saying the same thing two times. There is no extra meaning added by using both words. So, take your pick of either word. The only difference in usage off the top of my head is that agile might be used for larger people (including horses) while nimble might be used for smaller people. In Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, the word agile could be used with pretty much zero change in meaning. It is just that nimble sounds better here.
    – user6951
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 23:09

2 Answers 2

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Nimble: the ability to be very deliberate and precise.

Agile: being flexible or able to use your fingers in many ways.

  1. Threading a needle requires very precise and nimble movements.

  2. To be able to climb to the top of the tower before time is called, you must be very agile.

Sentence 1 means you have to be delicate and precise when threading a needle because of how small the eye of the needle is.

Sentence 2 means you have to move quickly and easily so that you can climb to the top before you run out of time.

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I am no expert, not even native, just sharing what I understand from all the dictionary definitions and examples I read. The difference seems to be:

  • Nimble is about grasping
  • Agile is about reacting

So if you're talking about using one's brain, one would be

  • nimble at understanding concepts, learning things in detail, interpreting the situation, etc.
  • agile at reacting to changes in the situation, changing your focus to start learning an emerging idea, abandoning an obsolete idea, changing strategy when current one is failing (which requires being nimble at recognizing the failure), etc.

Same difference with respect to using extremities in an agile vs nimble way.

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