Confusing words: E

(Continuing the A-Z series)

Economic and economical – the two words are closely related and both mean something to do with money. They come from the same Greek word meaning “relating to household management” but they don’t mean quite the same thing.

Economical refers to a thing that gives good value for money or is inexpensive. A bicycle can be an economical means of transport, for instance. The word can also refer to a person who doesn’t waste money. Or you can say that someone is being economical with the truth, which is a polite way of saying that they’re lying or trying to mislead you.

Economic means relating to economics or the economy, as in an economic forecast. It also means justified in terms of profit or cost. So if your car or washing machine or whatever is so badly worn out or damaged it’s not worth the cost of repairing it, it’s beyond economic repair (not beyond economical repair as we sometimes hear).

You can read about the difference between economic and economical and a whole lot more, in the English Digital Content style guide.