optimum or optimal?
Is there a difference between optimum and optimal?
As adjectives, they have the same meaning: best; most favourable; most conducive to a good result
They both come from the Latin optimus, meaning “best”.
Look at these examples:
- What is the optimum/optimal childbearing age?
- We need to find the optimal/optimum solution.
- In our case, the optimum/optimal investment would produce a modest return at no risk.
Optimum can also be a noun, while optimal has two derivatives:
- optimally (adverb)
- optimality (noun)
By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub March 2009
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.
My peers and I use these words in spoken English all the time; however, we are engineers, and therefore quite perverse.
There is also seems to be some consensus that “optimal” connotates a more subjective or circumstance-based judgement, whereas “optimum” connotates a more objective or universal judgement. See this thread:
To all of the above, I will also add that my personal experience in the use of either term is that it carries the implication of a condition that is based upon the reconciliation of conflicting requirements or goals, not that it is a perfect synonym for “best”, but that’s just personal experience (with my perverse engineering colleagues); I have not found it documented anywhere.
i am still confused
Thanks, i was very confused but i got the actual meaning,
I repeat, I find the explanation about optimum and optimal quite good, but again, that word is not widely used in spoken English but in the written one like newspapers and the like.
Professor Justo Hernández Castell
I found the explanation good, although that word is not widely used in spoken English, it is rather used in written English, one is likely to find it in newspapers and the like.
Professor Justo Hernández Castell
very good, quiet interesting. you should carry on enhancing our vocabulary with such explanation.
Jose Romeu Pioltine says:
Thanks a lot for the excellent comments.
thank you it gained me a lot
I was very exciting when reading your explanation and found it very useful. This is a new word to me and I applied it promptly in my writing.
Thanks for helping us in learning English effectively.
Please do me a favour as I have to write a proposal but still not know how to structure this document. Please could you give me some advise/instruction on this matter?
Many thanks with best regards,
Jacky Liu says:
Perfect, that is the first time to clear the two words so much. thanks!
zoubir tazia says:
thanks so much for your information.truely , these words are new for me and i’ll use them in the future .
That’s great many thanks
Fathid Both words are alike, they have the same meaning but grammatically optimum is the noun and optimal is the adjective thanking you, I think is not enough for you Mr Josef Essberger you deserve the best regards and also the best, Fathd
jalil anti khomeyni says:
Nice, So pleased I am.
It is very clear
Thanks a lot for this explanation.
Very usefull. I sometimes think that they are only adj. So, it’s exciting. Thanks very muc!
Linda k hollywood says:
Very good and excellent verb Optimum and optimal
is mean best or good level and the verb ” optimist”
I think is the same meaning verb optimal.
Linda kosolsak (Hollywood)
thanks , it’s a new world for me
Ricardo Loli says:
tHERE ARE ALWAYS COMPLICATED WORDS WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND AND BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN ,SOMETIMES
Thanks a lot
good difference for esl learner,inhibition in the use of these words is eliminated.
Thanks for confirming the equivalence of the two words. Your question put a doubt in my mind and forced me to probe further by clicking ” read further” in the ESL newsletter. Very good question!!
Jose Rodolfo says:
Excelent, thanks a lot.
João Ghizoni says:
Thanks a lot, Mr. Essberger. Very clear and straighforward explanation. Congratulations. Would you mind checking these examples?
– Optimality is the level we should reach before we say we’re able to speak fluently.
– Speaking English optimally entitles you to communicate wherever you go.
Examples with ‘optimum/optimal’ you’ve already given, right?
(João, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil)
Thank you indeed Mr.Josef Essberger,Founder
Iam very grateful to you how you assisted alot of people around the world to learn English Language through Internet.
So far, I gained alot from this programme of Englishclub, now I am learner of this language but Iam hopeful to be a teacher in the future.
In addition to that, I advised freinds of mine who are interesting to learn English to join in this Englishclub.
Thanks again Mr.Josef Essberger.
On the other hand, the words optimum, optimal.I have not known before, so it is very useful for me to learn them.
Now I have understood the difference between them.
Sara Adam says:
Great , thanks
Another addition to my knowledge of English language, thanks for good expaination.
Pearl Nguyen says:
Optimal / Optimum explaination. Thanks.
Good,thanks a lot. I have understood quite well.
thanks… but i am still confuse how to use the derivative of one word. any suggestion?
Bahar Sarafrazi says:
thanks a lot because of your information in this site.that’s wonderful
great, very good, thanks!!!!
EXCELENT, VERY CLEAR, THANKS!!!!!!!
EXCELENT, VERY CLEAR, TAHNKS!!!!!