Exact Vs Accurate

arageme

New Member
SPAIN AND SPANISH
Could anyone help with the difference between exact and accurate, please?
thanks very much
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For practical purposes, an accurate measurement is also an exact measurement (ignoring other meanings of exact).

    Those who are fond of precision in measurement and in language might possibly say that a measurement could be accurate but not exact.

    The width of my PC screen is 305mm.
    That is an accurate measurement, within an acceptable tolerance, and if I knew how I could give you a formal assessement of the degree of accuracy of the measurement.
    It is not an exact measurement.
     

    *Cowgirl*

    Senior Member
    USA English
    accurate = close to the truth

    exact = "the" truth

    Ex. The exact measurement is 4.777765 inches. 4.778 would be a fairly accurate measurement but not exact.
     

    nycphotography

    Senior Member
    American English
    *Cowgirl* said:
    accurate = close to the truth

    exact = "the" truth

    Ex. The exact measurement is 4.777765 inches. 4.778 would be a fairly accurate measurement but not exact.
    Actually, 4.777765 is merely MORE accurate than 4.778 which is fairly accurate.

    There are no universally exact measurements, there are only exact measurements within an agreed upon scale for accuracy. For example, if we agree that 1/1000th is our accuracy limit, then in fact, 4.778 is an exact measurement within our ability to measure it.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    BoneChillin said:
    I would agree and say,

    Exact = precise, no room for misunderstanding or error...

    Accurate = close enough to exact to practically work
    I think of them in different contexts. Exact is often used when describing measurements. Accurate has a more general connotation of truthfulness or adherence to facts, but can also mean precise or exact in some settings.

    Elisabetta
     

    Sabelotodo

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    I must respectfully disagree with some of the previous posts. The words exact and accurate are used interchangably by English speakers to describe measurements. Which one is more precise is a purely subjective. Accurate has the additional connotation of lack of human error in the taking of the measurement.

    The word accurate is more likely to be used to describe facts, decriptions, testimony, memories, etc.--as in these sentences: The journalist gave an accurate account of the incident. I don't have an accurate recollection of the accident because I lost consciousness.

    I hope these comments are helpful.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In scientific contexts, though, "exact" and "accurate" may have different meanings. For example, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is exactly equal to pi=3,1415...

    r=3,14 is an accurate approximation of that ratio, to within 0,01.

    accurate: with small error;
    exact: with no error.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks, Outsider - that is an excellent example of the distinction I was trying to set out in #2.

    Repeating my introductory statement:
    For practical purposes, an accurate measurement is also an exact measurement (ignoring other meanings of exact).
     
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