Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

What is Stationary?

Stationary comes from the Latin root word “statio” meaning standing. Stationary is now an English word that is grammatically an adjective. It implies immobility and an unchanging state of something. The use of the word “stationary” has increased in the previous years in astronomy. In astronomy, it is used for planets that do not show any considerable motion. For example, “a stationary car” – indicates that the car is not moving.

Stationary can be used for anything that does not change in quantity, quality or proximity. The closest synonyms of this word are motionless, halted, immobile, and stopped, whereas major antonyms are moving, changing, and shifting. Stationary can be used in many contexts. For example, “You can step up on the swing only when it is stationary.”

The most distinctive feature of this word is that it is used for objects that usually move. In the abovementioned examples, the car and swing are usually in motion. However, when such objects cease to be in motion, the word “stationary” is used for them to imply an unusual change in their state. Stationary is a term that has a scientific connotation because it encapsulates the motionlessness of moving objects.

What is Stationery?

Stationery is a general term – categorically a noun – that refers to all sorts of items used for writing purposes. For example, pen, pencil, paper, clipboard, et cetera. This is a widely used word in academic as well as business contexts. In academia, the use of stationery is maximum. In the business environment, people also use stationery to perform everyday office tasks. Stationery can mean any item, e.g., an eraser, sharpener, drawing sheet, or graph sheet.

As for the usage of this word, its frequent use was observed in the 20th century, but by 2019, Google reported that its use had considerably been reduced. This reduction is a direct consequence of computers replacing conventional stationery. Instead of buying papers and pens, people can now write applications and prepare reports. This also reduces the extra cost of stationery. The overall decline of its use is in business contexts. In academia, stationery is still used and is necessary.

“He brought his own stationery to the school,” in the aforesaid sentence, stationery means the tools of writing he has come with. Stationery is still a popular term in academia because, after all, the use of pen and paper cannot be altogether ended. The semantic scope of this word is wider because it encompasses all writing items.

Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

  1. Stationary means something that does not move, whereas stationery refers to the items that are used for writing.
  2. The grammatical category of stationary is adjective, whereas stationery occurs as a noun in all contexts.
  3. The semantic scope of the word stationary is particular, whereas the semantic scope of the word stationery is general.
  4. The usage of the word stationary has increased recently, whereas a decrease in the use of stationery is observed.
  5. The word stationary has scientific connotations, whereas stationery has academic and business connotations.

Comparison Between Stationary and Stationery

Parameters of ComparisonStationaryStationery
MeaningImmobility, Unchanging, StaticMaterials Used for Writing
Grammatical CategoryAdjectiveNoun
Semantic ScopeParticularGeneral
ConnotationsScientificAcademic & Business


  1. https://just.edu.so/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CIT-Journals-2017.pdf#page=33
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1055698/