Ask Difference

Completely vs. Utterly — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 30, 2024
Completely and utterly both intensify absolutes, but "completely" suggests fullness or entirety, while "utterly" conveys an extreme degree or total destruction.
Completely vs. Utterly — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Completely and Utterly


Key Differences

Completely often relates to the entirety of a situation or condition, implying that no part is left out. For example, a task can be completed in every aspect. Utterly, on the other hand, emphasizes an overwhelming or extreme degree, often used to describe situations of complete ruin or devastation.
When you say something is completely finished, it means every component or phase is concluded. Whereas, describing something as utterly destroyed highlights the thoroughness of the destruction, leaving nothing salvageable.
Completely can also denote a state of wholeness or totality in a neutral or positive sense. For instance, a solution can be completely effective. Utterly, however, is frequently used to intensify negative states, suggesting something is beyond salvage or redemption.
In the context of emotions or reactions, someone might be completely surprised, which focuses on the full range of their surprise. Conversely, saying someone is utterly astonished might suggest a level of shock or awe that is profound and total.
Completely is versatile, applicable to both tangible and intangible scenarios, indicating the comprehensive presence or completion of something. Utterly, meanwhile, is often reserved for scenarios that emphasize the extent or degree of a condition, especially in a more figurative or abstract sense.

Comparison Chart


Entirely, with no part left out
To an absolute or extreme degree


Neutral or positive
Often negative or extreme

Usage Context

Completion, effectiveness
Destruction, devastation

Emotional Impact

Full range, total
Profound, overwhelming


Both tangible and intangible
More abstract or figurative

Compare with Definitions


Without exception; absolutely.
The movie was completely enjoyable from start to finish.


Totally, absolutely, without qualification.
The city was utterly destroyed by the natural disaster.


In a whole manner, without division.
The team was completely unified in their decision.


Beyond any usual degree; exceedingly.
The play was utterly boring to him.


Fully, with nothing missing.
The project was completed entirely ahead of schedule.


Completely and without reservation.
He was utterly devoted to his family.


To the utmost extent or degree.
He was completely convinced of her innocence.


Indicating complete failure or ruin.
Their plans were utterly foiled by the weather.


Covering all aspects or parts.
The book completely covers the basics of programming.


To an extreme degree; thoroughly.
She was utterly baffled by the puzzle.


Having all necessary or normal parts, components, or steps; entire
A complete medical history.
A complete set of dishes.


Completely; absolutely; entirely.


(Botany) Having all principal parts, namely, the sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil or pistils. Used of a flower.


; entirely; to the fullest extent.
Well, now we are utterly lost.
I have failed you utterly.


Having come to an end; concluded
The renovation of the kitchen is complete.


In an utter manner; to the full extent; fully; totally; as, utterly ruined; it is utterly vain.


Absolute; thorough
Complete control.
A complete mystery.


Completely and without qualification; used informally as intensifiers;
An absolutely magnificent painting
A perfectly idiotic idea
You're perfectly right
Utterly miserable
You can be dead sure of my innocence
Was dead tired
Dead right


Accomplished; consummate
A complete musician.


With sublimity; in a sublime manner;
Awaking in me, sublimely unconscious, interest and energy for tackling these tasks


(Football) Caught in bounds by a receiver
A complete pass.


To bring to a finish or an end
She has completed her studies.


To make whole, with all necessary elements or parts
A second child would complete their family. Fill in the blanks to complete the form.


(Football) To throw (a forward pass) that is caught in bounds by a receiver.


(manner) In a complete manner
Please completely fill in the box for your answer, using a number 2 pencil.


(degree) To the fullest extent or degree; totally.
He is completely mad.


In a complete manner; fully.


To a complete degree or to the full or entire extent (`whole' is often used informally for `wholly');
He was wholly convinced
Entirely satisfied with the meal
It was completely different from what we expected
Was completely at fault
A totally new situation
The directions were all wrong
It was not altogether her fault
An altogether new approach
A whole new idea


So as to be complete; with everything necessary;
He had filled out the form completely
The apartment was completely furnished

Common Curiosities

Do "completely" and "utterly" have the same origin?

Both words have different etymological origins but have evolved to express intensities in English.

Can something be utterly complete?

Yes, in a context emphasizing the thoroughness or extremity of completion, combining both can emphasize a very strong degree of completion.

Is "completely" more about physical states while "utterly" is about abstract states?

"Completely" can describe both physical and abstract states fully, while "utterly" often emphasizes the degree or intensity, typically in abstract contexts.

Can "completely" and "utterly" be used interchangeably?

While they can sometimes be used interchangeably, "utterly" often conveys a stronger sense of extremity or negativity.

Can "completely" imply a process while "utterly" a result?

Yes, "completely" often focuses on the process of being thorough, whereas "utterly" highlights the extent of an outcome or state.

Can "utterly" be used in a positive context?

While less common, "utterly" can be used positively, especially to emphasize extreme degrees of positive traits or emotions.

Are there scenarios where "completely" is not appropriate but "utterly" is?

"Utterly" is more apt in cases needing to express an overwhelming degree or intensity, especially when "completely" might sound too mild.

How do "completely" and "utterly" affect the tone of a sentence?

"Completely" can maintain a neutral or positive tone, while "utterly" often intensifies the tone, especially towards negativity or extremity.

Is "utterly" stronger than "completely"?

In many contexts, "utterly" can convey a stronger sense of extremity or totality, especially in negative or impactful situations.

How do "completely" and "utterly" influence the clarity of communication?

Their use clarifies the extent or degree of what is being described, enhancing communication by specifying intensity or totality.

How does the usage of "completely" vs. "utterly" change in formal writing?

In formal writing, the choice depends on the desired emphasis: "completely" for totality and "utterly" for intensity or extremity.

What makes "utterly" distinct in conveying feelings or emotions?

"Utterly" intensifies the expression of emotions, suggesting a profound or overwhelming degree.

Is "completely happy" the same as "utterly happy"?

"Completely happy" suggests full happiness without lacking any aspect, while "utterly happy" could imply an overwhelming or intense happiness.

Does "completely" have synonyms that convey a similar sense of totality without the intensity of "utterly"?

Yes, synonyms like "entirely" or "fully" can convey totality similar to "completely" without the intensity associated with "utterly".

Can the preference for "completely" or "utterly" vary by English dialect?

Yes, usage preferences can vary slightly by dialect, with some dialects favoring one over the other in specific contexts.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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