'Systemic' or 'Systematic'?

Systemic and systematic are both related to the word system, but they have different meanings.

Mignon Fogarty


Steve M. from Springfield, Missouri, wrote, "[What are your] thoughts on the difference between using 'systemic' and 'systematic'?"

Systemic describes something that happens or exists throughout a whole system. It is the newer word; it entered English in the early 1800s.

He has a systemic infection.

The new police chief had to address systemic corruption.

Systematic describes something that was thorough and intentional, methodical, or implemented according to a plan. It is the older word, having entered English around 1670.

Doctors began a systematic treatment plan.

Ending systematic discrimination was his first goal.

Systemic means throughout the whole system. Systematic means according to plan.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.