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Precisely vs. Accurately — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 29, 2024
"Precisely" refers to the exactness of an action or measurement, often relating to a specific detail or standard; "accurately" implies correctness or conformity to truth or fact, focusing on the absence of errors or deviations.
Precisely vs. Accurately — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Precisely and Accurately


Key Differences

Precisely is used when the focus is on the exactness or specific details of an action, emphasizing a high level of detail or exact conformity to a set standard or expected outcome. On the other hand, accurately encompasses the broader concept of correctness, ensuring that an action, description, or measurement conforms closely to the truth or a given standard without significant errors.
While precisely might describe the meticulous following of steps in a procedure or hitting a specific target point, accurately is more about the overall correctness and reliability of the outcome, such as in measurements or factual reporting. Whereas precision might imply a focus on process or specific alignment, accuracy ensures that the final outcome is what it should be based on expectations or requirements.
For example, if you set a clock precisely to a world standard, you are focused on matching the exact time down to the second. Conversely, if you set a clock accurately, you ensure it shows the correct time broadly, maybe within a minute of the correct time, ensuring it's practically correct but not necessarily exact to the second.
Precision can often be seen as a component of accuracy in contexts where both exactness and correctness are required. However, it is possible to be precise but not accurate if you are consistently hitting the wrong target exactly at the wrong spot, whereas being accurate ensures you are on the right track, even if not perfectly on the mark every time.
Both terms are crucial in fields like science and engineering, where the difference between precise and accurate measurements can determine the success or failure of a project. Precision ensures repeatability and consistency, while accuracy ensures validity and conformity to standards.

Comparison Chart


Exactness, detail-oriented
Correctness, true or factual


Specific actions or standards
General correctness without deviation


Subset of accuracy in many contexts
Broader than precision


Can be exact but wrong
Less likely to be wrong


Essential in high-detail settings
Crucial in broad range of contexts

Compare with Definitions


Exactly, in a detailed and accurate manner.
The machine parts fit together precisely.


Faithfully representing the original or intended idea.
The biography captures the personality of its subject accurately.


With great detail.
He described the scene precisely as it happened.


Free from errors or distortions.
The map accurately represents the geography of the area.


In a meticulous manner.
She followed the recipe precisely, measuring each ingredient carefully.


Correctly or with minimal errors.
The document was translated accurately.


On the exact mark or point.
The arrow hit the target precisely in the center.


Conforming closely to a standard or truth.
The thermometer measures temperature accurately.


At exactly a stated time or measure.
The meeting started precisely at noon.


With high reliability and correctness.
He accurately predicted the outcome of the experiment.


In a precise manner.


Conforming exactly to fact; errorless.


Used as an intensive
Inferior equipment was precisely the reason some hikers refused to continue the climb.


Deviating only slightly or within acceptable limits from a standard.


(manner) In a precise manner; exactly.
I always try to express myself precisely.


Capable of providing a correct reading or measurement
An accurate scale.


(focus) Used to provide emphasis.


Acting or performing with care and precision; meticulous
An accurate proofreader.


Indicating exactness or preciseness;
He was doing precisely (or exactly) what she had told him to do
It was just as he said--the jewel was gone
It has just enough salt


In an accurate manner; exactly; precisely; without error or defect.


In a precise manner;
She always expressed herself precisely


In an accurate manner; exactly; precisely; without error or defect.


Just as it should be;
`Precisely, my lord,' he said


With few mistakes;
He works very accurately


Strictly correctly;
Repeated the order accurately

Common Curiosities

Can a measurement be precise but not accurate?

Yes, a measurement can be consistently precise to a specific point but still be inaccurate if it's the wrong point or standard.

Why is accuracy important in reporting?

Accuracy ensures that the information shared is correct and reliable, reducing the spread of misinformation.

What does it mean to do something precisely?

To do something precisely means to execute it with exactness and specific attention to detail.

In what contexts is it more important to be precise rather than accurate?

Precision is more important in contexts like manufacturing or where small deviations can lead to significant consequences, such as in the fitting of components in aerospace engineering.

Can a process be accurate without being precise?

Yes, a process can be accurate without being precise if it yields results that are generally correct on average but may vary each time; for example, a set of darts thrown might all hit near the bullseye but not in the exact same spot.

How do precision and accuracy affect scientific experiments?

In scientific experiments, precision ensures consistent results across multiple trials, while accuracy ensures that these results are correct in relation to the true or expected outcome.

What are the risks of not being precise in technical fields?

Lack of precision in technical fields can lead to errors in design and operation, potentially resulting in failures, safety issues, and increased costs.

How do precision and accuracy affect data quality?

High precision and accuracy in data collection and processing ensure high-quality data, which is crucial for making reliable decisions and conclusions.

How does accurately differ from precisely?

Accurately implies a broader correctness and conformity to truth, whereas precisely focuses on specific details or exact conformity to a standard.

Is it better to be precise or accurate?

Depending on the context, both can be important; precision is crucial when exactness is required, while accuracy is necessary for overall correctness and reliability.

Is precision more related to methodology or outcome?

Precision is more related to methodology, as it involves the consistency and repeatability of an action or measurement process.

What tools or methods can improve precision and accuracy?

Tools like calibrated measuring instruments and techniques such as statistical analysis and quality control processes can improve both precision and accuracy.

What role does precision play in sports?

In sports, precision is crucial for athletes who need to perform movements or place objects at specific locations consistently, like archery or golf.

How does the concept of precision and accuracy apply to everyday life?

In everyday life, precision can relate to tasks requiring detailed attention, like following a recipe exactly, while accuracy is important in broader tasks like estimating time or costs effectively.

What is an example of being precise and accurate at the same time?

A laboratory balance that consistently measures the weight of a substance within a tiny margin of error each time it is used, and the readings accurately reflect the true weight.

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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.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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