Wealthy / Well-off / Rich / Affluent


Senior Member
Australia / English

Wealthy / well-off / rich / affluent all have the same meaning as I think. May anyone explain the difference between them ? It will really help me to understand them and use them correctly ? It would be helpful to explain them in sentences ?

Thanks in advance
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  • maxiogee

    They are interchangeable, generally - but some might rank them from wealthiest downwards....


    *Cowgirl* said:
    In my opinion affluent could also mean very stylish or classy as well as rich.
    You are,of course, entitled to your opinion - just as Chambers Dictionary is entitled to disagree with you. :D
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    Senior Member
    Australia / English
    So can I say,
    - He is very ( wealthy / rich / affluent / well-off ) as if they are interchangeable? And it's just a matter of having more money like a rich person have more money than a wealthy person?
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    Mr.Blue said:
    so can i say,
    - he is very ( wealthy / rich / affluent / well-off ). As if they are interchangeable ?? and it's just a matter of having more money like a rich person have more money than a wealthy person ??
    Dear Mr Blue,

    I would follow Maxiogee's listing of degrees of wealth.

    Richard Branson is extremely rich as a result of his astute business acumen. (He has so much money that he probably doesn't know exactly how much).

    Lady Hobnob is considered by her friends to be wealthy. (She has enough money to lead a very comfortable life and will almost certainly bequeath a lot of it when she dies).

    The son of affluent parents, he was sent to Eton College for a good education. (The parents had enough money to pay the fees for Eton, without worrying).

    The children had far more toys than their friends because their parents were well off. (The parents could easily afford to buy extra toys for their children as they had money to spare).



    New Member
    I think Dictionary.com puts it best:

    Rich, wealthy, affluent all indicate abundance of possessions. RICH is the general word; it may imply that possessions are newly acquired: an oilman who became rich overnight. WEALTHY suggests permanence, stability, and appropriate surroundings: a wealthy banker. AFFLUENT usually suggests a generous amount of income, with a high standard of living and some social prestige and privilege: an affluent family.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    Most of these are ways of understating or avoiding the bald, plain "rich". Rich is rich! Affluent, and well-off, as well as comfortable and upper-middle-class are ways of admitting that you are, in fact, rich, without actually saying so. Affluent is a special case, as it is a grander way of saying rich, and might be used in a society column in the newspaper that way.

    -"Are you rich?" -"Oh, I'm comfortably well-off." (Yes, you are rich! ADMIT IT, YOU BLOATED PLUTOCRAT!)
    I hate to disagree with pwmeek, but there are different levels of wealth that are accommodated by the difference between, on the one hand "rich" and "wealthy" and, on the other hand, "affluent" and "well-off." The comments above and the threads cycloneviv links to provide a pretty good overview of how these poorly defined words are used. That said, I think calling Bill Gates "affluent" or "well-off" would be pretty silly, while calling a well-paid (but potentially deeply in debt) corporate employee "rich" would be an exaggeration.
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