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Crystal vs. Crystalline — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 28, 2023
Crystal is a solid material whose atoms are arranged in a highly ordered pattern. Crystalline refers to a structure, often solid, that has a crystal-like pattern.
Crystal vs. Crystalline — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Crystal and Crystalline

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Key Differences

Crystal primarily refers to a solid substance in which the atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. It is often used to describe specific solid substances like salt crystals or quartz crystals, which exhibit well-defined geometric shapes and are typically bounded by smooth, flat surfaces. When the term "crystal" is used, it usually denotes the presence of a tangible, often visually appealing solid with a definite structure.
Crystalline, on the other hand, is an adjective used to describe a material or substance that has a structure characteristic of crystals, or it denotes the nature of crystals. This term doesn’t refer to a tangible object but rather to the quality or state of having a structure resembling that of a crystal. When something is described as crystalline, it often implies that the material has some degree of order or a patterned structure similar to that found in crystals, even if it may not form well-defined crystals.
The usage of the word crystal is widespread, encompassing various fields like chemistry, physics, and mineralogy, to denote substances that exhibit a crystalline structure. It is a term that can stand alone to describe a category of materials that share common structural attributes, implying a certain level of specificity and detail in the arrangement of constituent particles.
In contrast, crystalline serves as a descriptive term, enhancing the understanding of the nature of a substance or material. It provides a qualitative perspective on the structural aspects of a material, offering insights into the degree of order and regularity in its composition. Crystalline can describe not just the perfect order found in ideal crystals but also the partial order found in materials that exhibit some degree of crystallinity.
To summarise, crystal denotes a specific type of solid material with a definite, orderly structure, whereas crystalline is an adjective describing the nature or quality of having a structure characteristic of crystals. Both terms, while related, are used in different contexts to convey distinct aspects of material structure and order.
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Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Noun
Adjective

Definition

A solid material with atoms arranged in an ordered pattern.
Describing a structure characteristic of crystals.

Denotation

Refers to a tangible solid substance.
Refers to the quality or state of a substance.

Application

Specific substances like salt or quartz crystals.
Describing the nature or structure of a material.

Representation

Represents a specific object or substance.
Represents a characteristic or quality.

Compare with Definitions

Crystal

A piece of a homogeneous solid substance having a natural geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces.
The geologist found a large quartz crystal in the cave.

Crystalline

Pertaining to crystals or to the principles of crystallography.
The study of crystalline materials is fundamental in mineralogy.

Crystal

A clear, transparent mineral or glass resembling ice.
The chandelier was adorned with hundreds of dazzling crystals.

Crystalline

Made of or similar to crystal.
The crystalline chandelier sparkled brilliantly.

Crystal

The transparent piece of quartz in a watch through which the dial is viewed.
He accidentally cracked the crystal of his wristwatch.

Crystalline

Having the structure and form of a crystal; composed of crystals.
The crystalline structure of salt is easily observable under a microscope.

Crystal

A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macroscopic single crystals are usually identifiable by their geometrical shape, consisting of flat faces with specific, characteristic orientations.

Crystalline

Clear and sharply defined.
His instructions were crystalline and left no room for misinterpretation.

Crystal

A piece of a homogeneous solid substance having a natural geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces
Ice crystals formed where his breath froze
A quartz crystal

Crystalline

Being, relating to, or composed of crystal or crystals.

Crystal

Highly transparent glass with a high refractive index
A crystal chandelier

Crystalline

Resembling crystal, as in transparency or distinctness of structure or outline.

Crystal

Short for crystal meth (methamphetamine)

Crystalline

Of, relating to, or composed of crystals.

Crystal

Clear and transparent like crystal
The clean crystal waters of the lake

Crystalline

(chemistry) Having a regular three-dimensional molecular structure.

Crystal

A homogenous solid formed by a repeating, three-dimensional pattern of atoms, ions, or molecules and having fixed distances between constituent parts.

Crystalline

Resembling crystal in being clear and transparent.

Crystal

The unit cell of such a pattern.

Crystalline

Pure.

Crystal

A mineral, especially a transparent form of quartz, having a crystalline structure, often characterized by external planar faces.

Crystalline

(obsolete) Any crystalline substance.

Crystal

A natural or synthetic crystalline material having piezoelectric or semiconducting properties.

Crystalline

(obsolete) aniline

Crystal

An electrical or electronic device that makes use of such a material, thereby allowing it to receive radio transmissions.

Crystalline

Consisting, or made, of crystal.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.

Crystal

A high-quality, clear, colorless glass.

Crystalline

Formed by crystallization; like crystal in texture.
Their crystalline structure.

Crystal

An object, especially a vessel or ornament, made of such glass.

Crystalline

Imperfectly crystallized; as, granite is only crystalline, while quartz crystal is perfectly crystallized.

Crystal

Such objects considered as a group.

Crystalline

Fig.: Resembling crystal; pure; transparent; pellucid.

Crystal

A clear glass or plastic protective cover for the face of a watch or clock.

Crystalline

A crystalline substance.

Crystal

(Slang) A stimulant drug, usually methamphetamine, in its powdered form.

Crystalline

See Aniline.

Crystal

Clear or transparent
A crystal lake.
The crystal clarity of their reasoning.

Crystalline

Consisting of or containing or of the nature of crystals;
Granite is crystalline

Crystal

(countable) A solid composed of an array of atoms or molecules possessing long-range order and arranged in a pattern which is periodic in three dimensions.

Crystalline

Distinctly or sharply outlined;
Crystalline sharpness of outline

Crystal

(countable) A piece of glimmering, shining mineral resembling ice or glass.

Crystalline

Transmitting light; able to be seen through with clarity;
The cold crystalline water of melted snow
Crystal clear skies
Could see the sand on the bottom of the limpid pool
Lucid air
A pellucid brook
Transparent cristal

Crystal

(uncountable) A fine type of glassware, or the material used to make it.

Crystal

Crystal meth: methamphetamine hydrochloride.

Crystal

A person's eye.

Crystal

The glass over the dial of a watch case.

Crystal

Very clear.
"Do I make myself clear?" / "Crystal."

Crystal

The regular form which a substance tends to assume in solidifying, through the inherent power of cohesive attraction. It is bounded by plane surfaces, symmetrically arranged, and each species of crystal has fixed axial ratios. See Crystallization.

Crystal

The material of quartz, in crystallization transparent or nearly so, and either colorless or slightly tinged with gray, or the like; - called also rock crystal. Ornamental vessels are made of it. Cf. Smoky quartz, Pebble; also Brazilian pebble, under Brazilian.

Crystal

A species of glass, more perfect in its composition and manufacture than common glass, and often cut into ornamental forms. See Flint glass.

Crystal

The glass over the dial of a watch case.

Crystal

Anything resembling crystal, as clear water, etc.
The blue crystal of the seas.

Crystal

Consisting of, or like, crystal; clear; transparent; lucid; pellucid; crystalline.
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep.
By crystal streams that murmur through the meads.
The crystal pellets at the touch congeal,And from the ground rebounds the ratting hail.

Crystal

A solid formed by the solidification of a chemical and having a highly regular atomic structure

Crystal

A crystalline element used as a component in various electronic devices

Crystal

A rock formed by the solidification of a substance; has regularly repeating internal structure; external plane faces

Crystal

Colorless glass made of almost pure silica

Crystal

Glassware made of quartz

Crystal

A protective cover that protects the face of a watch

Crystal

A solid material whose constituents, such as atoms, molecules, or ions, are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure.
The formation of a snowflake is an example of crystal formation.

Common Curiosities

Can we see the crystal structure of substances?

The crystal structure of many substances can be observed under a microscope.

Is every solid a crystal?

No, not every solid is a crystal; some solids are amorphous, lacking an ordered structure.

What is a crystal?

A crystal is a solid material in which the atoms are arranged in an ordered pattern.

Can crystal refer to a clear glass?

Yes, high-quality, clear, colorless glass is often referred to as crystal.

Is crystalline used to describe the clarity of substances?

Yes, crystalline can describe the clarity and transparency of substances.

What does crystalline mean?

Crystalline describes the structure characteristic of crystals or denotes the quality or state of having such structure.

Does the term crystalline imply a specific crystal shape?

No, crystalline refers to the presence of a crystal-like structure, not a specific shape.

Is crystalline a noun or adjective?

Crystalline is an adjective.

Can crystalline substances be opaque?

Yes, not all crystalline substances are transparent; some are opaque.

Can liquids be crystalline?

No, the term crystalline typically applies to solids, describing their ordered structural arrangement.

Can a material be partially crystalline?

Yes, some materials exhibit both crystalline and amorphous regions.

Can crystals be formed in laboratories?

Yes, many crystals can be synthetically grown in laboratories.

Are synthetic crystals considered true crystals?

Yes, synthetic crystals with an orderly atomic arrangement are considered true crystals.

Are all minerals crystals?

Many minerals form crystals, but not all minerals are crystalline.

Do crystals only form in nature?

No, crystals can form both in nature and under controlled conditions in laboratories.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. 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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