Analog vs. Analogue: The difference made simple
Even though these words overlap, it's good to know how they differ.
When writing, it is essential that you find the correct words to get your point across. Avoiding misspellings and misused words will help you stand out as a thorough and talented writer. This is especially true for tricky words that stump even the professionals; for example, take the words analog and analogue.
Both words have the same general meanings, but are used contextually in different ways. If you’re still confused, don’t worry! Let’s review the definitions of both words and some examples to help you understand exactly how to use them.
Definition of Analog
Analog has two general definitions, one as an adjective dealing with technology and one as a noun. In the adjective sense, the word analog is defined as: “relating to or being a mechanism or device in which information is represented by continuously variable physical quantities.” In other words, analog means to display information in a non-digital way using physical pieces.
The noun sense of analog is defined as: “something that is similar or comparable to something else either in general or in some specific detail.” However, the second definition is not used as commonly as the first.
As you can see, these two definitions differ greatly. Here are some examples to demonstrate both definitions!
- #1 An old-school analog clock has hands instead of a digital display.
In this case, the clock is described as analog because it is a device that presents information in a non-digital way. Instead of digitally showing numbers, the hands on the clock move to display the time.
- #2 You can listen to vinyl records by placing them on an analog player.
Much like the first example, this shows how the word analog is used to describe older or out-dated technology. However, the word is not used in a rude way! It simply describes a device that uses physical mechanisms instead of digital, much like a record player.
- #3 “Of course, it’s possible to meet someone online, but it’s just as tough as the old, analog ways.” — Anita Hamilton
This quote shows the word being used in reference to old-school methods of dating as opposed to the more general usage. This is an example of someone taking the word analog, understood as referring to old technology, and comparing it to a non-electronic but equally old method of dating.
Definition of Analogue
The two definitions shown above are also understood to be the primary definitions of the word analogue. However, the definition of “something that is similar or comparable to something else either in general or in some specific detail” is the most common way that the word analogue is applied. Here are some examples!
- #1 A copywriter is the modern-day analogue of a scribe.
In this example, we take an ancient profession (scribe) and compare it to a modern-day profession (copywriter). They are comparable in their duties, so one is an analogue of the other.
- #2 Roasted fish is a healthier analogue to roasted chicken.
Once again, this example shows the word analogue being used to compare one thing to another. In this case, it compares a fish to a chicken with the implication that a fish is healthier. In this example, the word is being used as a noun instead of an adjective.
- #3 “Moving an analogue process from one place to another doesn’t correct the underlying issue.” — Sanjay Brahmawar
This example shows the word analogue being used in the electronic and out-dated sense. While one definition may be more common than the other, it is still helpful to remember that both can be used without technically being incorrect!
Remembering the difference
In summary, the words analog and analogue share the same two definitions. This means that they can technically be used in both contexts without either word being wrong. However, analog is more commonly used when referring to electronics and analogue is more commonly used when making a comparison.
There is an exception to this rule that you should remember — outside of the United States, it is more common for people to use analogue in all instances. This is because the U.S. has a tendency to drop the “u” or “ue” ending from words. This is important to remember if you are writing for an international audience.
Now that you know the difference, you can write like a pro!