# Equal vs. Equivalent — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 25, 2023
"Equal" means being the same in quantity, value, or status, while "equivalent" means having the same worth or function but not necessarily being identical.

## Key Differences

"Equal" is a term that is often used to indicate that two or more things have the same value, magnitude, or status. For example, in mathematics, two numbers are considered equal if they have the same numerical value. "Equal" usually requires a one-to-one correspondence between the elements being compared.
On the other hand, "equivalent" signifies that two or more things have the same value or function but may not be identical in form. In chemistry, for example, an equivalent amount of two substances may react in the same way, despite not being the same substance. "Equivalent" allows for some variation in form or structure, as long as the function or value remains the same.
The word "equal" is generally more rigid in its definition, implying a strict one-to-one correspondence between the elements or attributes in question. In contrast, "equivalent" allows for some flexibility, as it only requires that the items being compared perform the same function or have the same value or impact, not that they are identically structured or composed.
In summary, while "equal" and "equivalent" can sometimes be used interchangeably, they have nuanced differences. "Equal" usually means identical in some respect, while "equivalent" means functionally or valuably the same but not necessarily identical.

## Comparison Chart

### Meaning

Identical in value
Same worth or function

Less flexible
More flexible

### Example Domains

Math, Social Justice
Chemistry, Engineering

### Interpretation

Strict
Context-dependent

## Compare with Definitions

#### Equal

Identical in value or amount.
These two pieces are equal in size.

#### Equivalent

Same in value, function, or meaning.
Five dollars is equivalent to 500 pennies.

#### Equal

Having the same status or rights.
All citizens are equal under the law.

#### Equivalent

Comparable in effect or function.
The generic drug is equivalent to the brand-name version.

#### Equal

Uniform in operation or effect.
The machines operate at an equal pace.

#### Equivalent

Corresponding in position or function but not identical.
The equivalent rank in the Navy is Admiral.

#### Equal

A term used in mathematics to denote identical numerical value.
4 + 1 is equal to 5.

#### Equivalent

Equal in value, amount, function, meaning, etc.
One unit is equivalent to one glass of wine

#### Equal

Being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value
1 litre is roughly equal to 1 quart
Add equal amounts of water and flour

#### Equivalent

A person or thing that is equal to or corresponds with another in value, amount, function, meaning, etc.
The French equivalent of the Bank of England

#### Equal

Having the ability or resources to meet (a challenge)
The players proved equal to the task

#### Equivalent

The mass of a particular substance that can combine with or displace one gram of hydrogen or eight grams of oxygen, used in expressing combining powers, especially of elements.

#### Equal

A person or thing that is the same as another in status or quality
Entertainment facilities without equal in the British Isles
We all treat each other as equals

#### Equivalent

Equal, as in value, force, or meaning.

#### Equal

Be the same as in number or amount
The total debits should equal the total credits
Four plus six divided by two equals five

#### Equivalent

Having similar or identical effects.

#### Equal

Having the same quantity, measure, or value as another.

#### Equivalent

Being essentially equal, all things considered
A wish that was equivalent to a command.

#### Equal

(Mathematics) Being the same or identical to in value.

#### Equivalent

Capable of being put into a one-to-one relationship. Used of two sets.

#### Equal

Having the same privileges, status, or rights
Citizens equal before the law.

#### Equivalent

Having virtually identical or corresponding parts.

#### Equal

Being the same for all members of a group
Gave every player an equal chance to win.

#### Equivalent

Of or relating to corresponding elements under an equivalence relation.

#### Equal

Having the requisite qualities, such as strength or ability, for a task or situation
"Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the scene" (Jane Austen).

#### Equivalent

(Chemistry) Having the same ability to combine.

#### Equal

Similar to or the same as another, as in ability
As the playoffs began, the teams were considered roughly equal.

#### Equivalent

(Logic) Having equivalence
Equivalent propositions.

#### Equal

One that is equal to another
These two models are equals in computing power.

#### Equivalent

Something that is essentially equal to another
"The hand is not the biological equivalent of a hammer or a screwdriver.
The hand is a multipurpose tool like a Swiss Army knife" (Jonathan Gottschall).

#### Equal

To be equal to, especially in value.

#### Equivalent

(Chemistry) Equivalent weight.

#### Equal

To do, make, or produce something equal to
Equaled the world record in the mile run.

#### Equivalent

Similar or identical in value, meaning or effect; virtually equal.
To burn calories, a thirty-minute jog is equivalent to a couple of hamburgers.

#### Equal

(not comparable) The same in all respects.
Equal conditions should produce equal results.
All men are created equal.

#### Equivalent

(mathematics) Of two sets, having a one-to-one correspondence.

#### Equal

Exactly identical, having the same value.
All right angles are equal.

#### Equivalent

(mathematics) Relating to the corresponding elements of an equivalence relation.

#### Equal

(obsolete) Fair, impartial.

#### Equivalent

(chemistry) Having the equal ability to combine.

#### Equal

(comparable) Adequate; sufficiently capable or qualified.
This test is pretty tough, but I think I'm equal to it.

#### Equivalent

(cartography) Of a map, equal-area.

#### Equal

(obsolete) Not variable; equable; uniform; even.
An equal movement

#### Equivalent

(geometry) Equal in measure but not admitting of superposition; applied to magnitudes.
A square may be equivalent to a triangle.

#### Equal

(music) Intended for voices of one kind only, either all male or all female; not mixed.

#### Equivalent

Anything that is virtually equal to something else, or has the same value, force, etc.

#### Equal

To be equal to, to have the same value as; to correspond to.
Two plus two equals four.

#### Equivalent

(chemistry) An equivalent weight.

#### Equal

(transitive) To make equivalent to; to cause to match.
David equaled the water levels of the bottles, so they now both contain exactly 1 liter.

#### Equivalent

(transitive) To make equivalent to; to equal.

#### Equal

(informal) To have as its consequence.
Losing this deal equals losing your job.
Might does not equal right.

#### Equivalent

Equal in worth or value, force, power, effect, import, and the like; alike in significance and value; of the same import or meaning.
For now to serve and to minister, servile and ministerial, are terms equivalent.

#### Equal

A person or thing of equal status to others.
We're all equals here.
This beer has no equal.

#### Equivalent

Equal in measure but not admitting of superposition; - applied to magnitudes; as, a square may be equivalent to a triangle.

#### Equal

(obsolete) State of being equal; equality.

#### Equivalent

Contemporaneous in origin; as, the equivalent strata of different countries.

#### Equal

Agreeing in quantity, size, quality, degree, value, etc.; having the same magnitude, the same value, the same degree, etc.; - applied to number, degree, quantity, and intensity, and to any subject which admits of them; neither inferior nor superior, greater nor less, better nor worse; corresponding; alike; as, equal quantities of land, water, etc. ; houses of equal size; persons of equal stature or talents; commodities of equal value.

#### Equivalent

Something equivalent; that which is equal in value, worth, weight, or force; as, to offer an equivalent for damage done.
He owned that, if the Test Act were repealed, the Protestants were entitled to some equivalent. . . . During some weeks the word equivalent, then lately imported from France, was in the mouths of all the coffeehouse orators.

#### Equal

Bearing a suitable relation; of just proportion; having competent power, abilities, or means; adequate; as, he is not equal to the task.
The Scots trusted not their own numbers as equal to fight with the English.
It is not permitted to me to make my commendations equal to your merit.
Whose voice an equal messengerConveyed thy meaning mild.

#### Equivalent

That comparative quantity by weight of an element which possesses the same chemical value as other elements, as determined by actual experiment and reference to the same standard. Specifically: (a) The comparative proportions by which one element replaces another in any particular compound; thus, as zinc replaces hydrogen in hydrochloric acid, their equivalents are 32.5 and 1. (b) The combining proportion by weight of a substance, or the number expressing this proportion, in any particular compound; as, the equivalents of hydrogen and oxygen in water are respectively 1 and 8, and in hydric dioxide 1 and 16.

#### Equal

Not variable; equable; uniform; even; as, an equal movement.

#### Equivalent

A combining unit, whether an atom, a radical, or a molecule; as, in acid salt two or more equivalents of acid unite with one or more equivalents of base.

#### Equal

Evenly balanced; not unduly inclining to either side; characterized by fairness; unbiased; impartial; equitable; just.
Are not my ways equal?
Thee, O Jove, no equal judge I deem.
Nor think it equal to answer deliberate reason with sudden heat and noise.

#### Equivalent

To make the equivalent to; to equal; equivalence.

#### Equal

Of the same interest or concern; indifferent.
They who are not disposed to receive them may let them alone or reject them; it is equal to me.

#### Equivalent

A person or thing equal to another in value or measure or force or effect or significance etc;
Send two dollars or the equivalent in stamps

#### Equal

Intended for voices of one kind only, either all male or all female; - opposed to mixed.

#### Equivalent

The atomic weight of an element that has the same combining capacity as a given weight of another element; the standard is 8 for oxygen

#### Equal

Exactly agreeing with respect to quantity.

#### Equivalent

Equal in amount or value;
Like amounts
Equivalent amounts
The same amount
Gave one six blows and the other a like number
An equal number
The same number

#### Equal

One not inferior or superior to another; one having the same or a similar age, rank, station, office, talents, strength, or other quality or condition; an equal quantity or number; as, "If equals be taken from equals the remainders are equal."
Those who were once his equals envy and defame him.

#### Equivalent

Being essentially equal to something;
It was as good as gold
A wish that was equivalent to a command
His statement was tantamount to an admission of guilt

#### Equal

State of being equal; equality.

#### Equivalent

Equal in force, amount, or value.
The two statements are logically equivalent.

#### Equal

To be or become equal to; to have the same quantity, the same value, the same degree or rank, or the like, with; to be commen urate with.
On me whose all not equals Edward's moiety.

#### Equivalent

A term used in chemistry for substances that react in the same way.
One mole of sodium is equivalent to one mole of potassium in this reaction.

#### Equal

Who answered all her cares, and equaled all her love.

#### Equal

To make equal or equal to; to equalize; hence, to compare or regard as equals; to put on equality.
He would not equal the mind that he found in himself to the infinite and incomprehensible.

#### Equal

A person who is of equal standing with another in a group

#### Equal

Be identical or equivalent to;
One dollar equals 1,000 rubles these days!

#### Equal

Be equal to in quality or ability;
Nothing can rival cotton for durability
Her persistence and ambition only matches that of her parents

#### Equal

Make equal, uniform, corresponding, or matching;
Let's equalize the duties among all employees in this office
The company matched the discount policy of its competitors

#### Equal

Well matched; having the same quantity, value, or measure as another;
On equal terms
All men are equal before the law

#### Equal

Equal in amount or value;
Like amounts
Equivalent amounts
The same amount
Gave one six blows and the other a like number
An equal number
The same number

#### Equal

Alike in importance or significance.
Their contributions were equal to the task.

## Common Curiosities

#### Can equal and equivalent be used interchangeably?

Sometimes, but they have nuanced differences.

#### Is equivalent a flexible term?

Yes, equivalent allows for variations in form or structure.

#### What does equal mean?

Equal means being the same in value, amount, or status.

#### Is equal used in mathematics?

Yes, equal is commonly used to indicate identical numerical values.

#### Is equivalent used in chemistry?

Yes, equivalent is used to describe substances that have the same reactivity.

#### Can two different currencies be equivalent?

Yes, if their purchasing power is the same, they are considered equivalent.

#### What does equivalent mean?

Equivalent means having the same value or function but not necessarily being identical.

#### How are equal and equivalent used in grammar?

Both can be used as adjectives and nouns.

#### Is equal a strict term?

Yes, equal implies a strict one-to-one correspondence.

#### Can equal refer to social justice?

Yes, it's often used to signify that all individuals have the same rights and status.

#### Can equivalent refer to alternative options?

Yes, like a generic drug being equivalent to a brand-name drug.

#### Are equal and equivalent synonyms?

They are similar but not exact synonyms due to nuanced differences.

#### Can equivalent refer to parallel situations?

Yes, equivalent can refer to situations that are similar in effect or outcome.

#### Do equal and equivalent come from the same root?

Both terms have Latin origins but come from different words.

#### Is equality the same as equivalency?

Equality is about being the same in some respect, while equivalency is about being functionally or valuably the same.

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