# Symmetric vs. Symmetrical — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on January 16, 2024
"Symmetric" and "symmetrical" are largely interchangeable, both describing something made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.

## Key Differences

Symmetric and Symmetrical are both adjectives used to describe an object or design where one half is the mirror image of the other, or where there is balance and proportion in the arrangement of parts. The terms are often used interchangeably in everyday language and in various fields like mathematics, art, and biology.
In a technical context, such as mathematics or physics, "symmetric" is more commonly used. It pertains to properties that remain invariant under certain transformations or operations. For example, a symmetric function or a symmetric matrix in mathematics. On the other hand, "symmetrical" is more commonly used in general English and in non-technical contexts, such as describing the balanced features of a building or a face.
The usage of symmetric tends to be more specific and narrowly defined, while symmetrical is used in a broader sense. For instance, in geometry, one would talk about symmetric shapes, but when referring to aesthetics or general appearances, symmetrical is the more commonly used term.
Grammatically, symmetric is sometimes preferred in compound words and technical phrases. For example, "symmetric key" in cryptography. Symmetrical, with its more general usage, is often used alone as a descriptive adjective. For example, describing a symmetrical garden design.
In summary, while symmetric and symmetrical can often be used interchangeably, their usage may vary slightly based on context. "Symmetric" is more prevalent in technical and scientific discourse, while "symmetrical" is more widespread in everyday language and descriptions of general aesthetics.

## Comparison Chart

### Usage

More common in technical or mathematical contexts
More common in general and aesthetic contexts

### Example Contexts

Mathematics, physics, cryptography
Art, architecture, general descriptions

### Grammatical Use

Often in compound words or technical phrases
Generally used as a standalone adjective

### Meaning

Invariant under certain transformations or operations
Balanced, mirror-like arrangement

### Specificity

More specific and narrowly defined

## Compare with Definitions

#### Symmetric

In mathematics, a function or operation that produces the same result when variables are interchanged.
The equation was symmetric with respect to x and y.

#### Symmetrical

Reflecting equal measurements and proportions on opposite sides.
The symmetrical arrangement of windows on the building was striking.

#### Symmetric

Used in scientific contexts to describe equal responses or behaviors.
The experiment showed symmetric results in both control and test groups.

#### Symmetrical

Characterized by balanced and proportionate similarities.
The artist's drawing was perfectly symmetrical.

#### Symmetric

Having balanced proportions or mirrored parts.
The symmetric design of the logo was visually appealing.

#### Symmetrical

In everyday language, describing balanced and harmonious appearance.
Her face is often described as symmetrical and pleasing.

#### Symmetric

Made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis; symmetrical
The structure is completely symmetric

#### Symmetrical

Exhibiting mirror image quality.
The butterfly's wings are an example of natural symmetrical beauty.

#### Symmetric

Of or exhibiting symmetry.

#### Symmetrical

Used to describe aesthetically pleasing balance.
The garden's symmetrical design added to its charm.

Symmetrical.

#### Symmetrical

Of or exhibiting symmetry.

#### Symmetric

(set theory) Of a relation R on a set S, such that xRy if and only if yRx for all members x and y of S (that is, if the relation holds between any element and a second, it also holds between the second and the first).
"Is a sibling of" is a symmetric relation.

#### Symmetrical

Exhibiting symmetry; having harmonious or proportionate arrangement of parts; having corresponding parts or relations.

#### Symmetric

(cryptography) Using the same key (or keys that are trivially related) for both encryption and decryption.

#### Symmetrical

Involving or exhibiting symmetry; proportional in parts; having its parts in due proportion as to dimensions; as, a symmetrical body or building.

Symmetrical.

#### Symmetrical

Having the organs or parts of one side corresponding with those of the other; having the parts in two or more series of organs the same in number; exhibiting a symmetry. See Symmetry, 2.

#### Symmetric

Having similarity in size, shape, and relative position of corresponding parts

#### Symmetrical

Having an equal number of parts in the successive circles of floral organs; - said of flowers.

#### Symmetrical

Having a common measure; commensurable.

#### Symmetrical

Having similarity in size, shape, and relative position of corresponding parts

#### Symmetrical

Exhibiting equivalence or correspondence among constituents of an entity or between different entities

## Common Curiosities

#### Is "symmetrical" used more in everyday language?

Yes, it's more common in general and aesthetic descriptions.

#### What does "symmetrical" imply in design?

It implies a balanced and proportionate arrangement.

#### Can an object be partially symmetric?

Yes, an object can have areas that are symmetric and others that are not.

#### Can architecture be symmetrical?

Yes, many architectural designs are based on symmetrical principles.

#### Are "symmetric" and "symmetrical" interchangeable?

Yes, they can often be used interchangeably.

#### What is an example of symmetric in mathematics?

A symmetric matrix is an example where the matrix is equal to its transpose.

#### What is a symmetrical pattern?

It's a design where elements are arranged in a balanced and mirror-like manner.

#### Does symmetric have different meanings in different fields?

Yes, its specific meaning can vary in fields like mathematics, physics, and art.

#### Can symmetry be found in nature?

Yes, many natural forms, like leaves and animals, exhibit symmetry.

#### Is facial symmetry linked to attractiveness?

Many studies suggest that symmetrical faces are often perceived as more attractive.

#### When should I use "symmetric"?

"Symmetric" is more common in technical or mathematical contexts.

#### Is human body considered symmetrical?

The human body is generally symmetrical in terms of external appearance.

#### Can a pattern be symmetrical in one direction only?

Yes, patterns can have symmetry along a particular axis or direction.

#### Are symmetrical objects always perfectly balanced?

While ideal symmetry implies perfect balance, real-world objects may have slight asymmetries.

#### What is bilateral symmetry?

It's a type of symmetry where an object has two symmetrical halves.

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger