accurate, precise

These two words are frequently misused.

Something accurate has no errors.

  • The inclusion of leap years keeps the solar calendar accurate.

Something precise is exact or specific.

  • The pair’s skating figures were precise.
  • Hank entered the room at the precise moment the phone rang.

However, despite being exact or specific, a precise answer may still be incorrect. For example, an accurate measurement is always exact, while a precise measurement is exact but not necessarily accurate (without error);

  • Sinead was precise in calculating the answer to the fourth decimal place; however, her answer was not accurate.
  • The weather channel forecast precisely 2 cm of snow; I only wish it had been accurate.

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