Distinct vs. Distinctive

These two words are not interchangeable.

Distinct = separate, different, distinguishable or clearly defined. It can also mean notable or highly probable.


There are two distinct rock types in that formation. (separate, different, distinguishable)

The pump emits a distinct sound when it is about to fail. (clearly defined)

SPE Paper #24438 was a distinct contribution to oil industry literature. (notable)

There is a distinct possibility that we may hire a new petrophysicist. (highly probable)

Distinctive = having a certain style or characteristic that helps identify. It is usually used to modify a feature or quality.


y boss makes a distinctive sound when he walks down the hall.

Her handwriting is very distinctive, and so is her laugh.

Made me cringe today:  radiuses The plural of radius is radii.

Made me laugh today:  wettability altercations

I’m sure they meant “alterations.” It made me imagine the oil-wet grains of rock in the reservoir warring against the water-wet grains, fighting to prevent wettability alteration, shouting the old Tareyton cigarette slogan: “I’d rather fight than switch!”

Profound Quote of the Day:
“Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive, and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.”

– Benjamin E. Mays, American educator, president of Morehouse College, 1895-1984


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