hierarchal & hierarchical

Discussion in 'English Only' started by deslenguada, May 11, 2007.

  1. deslenguada

    deslenguada Senior Member

    Hello! I was typing on word and I meant to type one of these two words when I misstyped because I didnt know how to Word corrected it as "hierarchal" and I decided to copy-pasted onto wordreference and look for it when it gave me the word "hierarchical" so I'm not sure which one is the right one or if both are ok but they mean different things.

    Thank you!
  2. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Umm, those words look to be identical to me. Did you mean one of them to be "hierarchical"? In any case, the Word Reference English Definitions dictionary is saying that they both mean the same thing :

    hierarchical Aadjective
    1 hierarchical, hierarchal, hierarchic

    classified according to various criteria into successive levels or layers; "it has been said that only a hierarchical society with a leisure class at the top can produce works of art"; "in her hierarchical set of values honesty comes first"
  3. deslenguada

    deslenguada Senior Member

    Yes "hierarchical" sorry, my mistake, I've already corrected it.

    Ok, so both mean the same, is anyone more appropiated than the other? Thank you. ;)
  4. moo mouse Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English UK
    I would always use heirarchical. I have a feeling heirarchal will turn out to be the American version (like orientated/oriented). Either would be understood though.
  5. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    That's ok. Yes, they both mean the same thing, apparently. I've looked up some different dictionaries, and they all say the two words are synonyms.
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've not come across hierarchal until now - but it is listed in the OED. The meaning is more or less the same as hierachical. It seems not to be used a great deal.

    Well, on checking Googlecounts, hierarchical 75,500,000, hierarchal 439,000.

    Clearly there is a whole new world out there of people who DO use hierarchal.
    Is there difference?

    There is a difference.

    Hierarch, noun, is an official in some church structures.
    Anything relating to that official, or that formal position, would be hierarchal - pertaining to the hierarch, not hierarchical.

    Edit: Definition of hierarch:
    One who has rule or authority in holy things; an ecclesiastical ruler or potentate; a chief priest; a chief prelate, an archbishop.

    Hierarchal - relating to a hierarch.
    Hierarchical - relating to a hierarchy.
    But those definitions overlap a lot.
  7. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    I don't think "hierarchal" is the AE version of "hierarchical." This is the first I've heard of "hierarchal", and I've used "hierarchical" for decades.

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