Accumulate vs. Accrue: What's the Difference?
Accumulate means to gather or amass over time, while accrue refers to the growth of something, often financial, by periodic additions or natural growth.
Accumulate and Accrue are both verbs that indicate a growth or increase in quantity. The word "Accumulate" directly signifies the collection or buildup of items, resources, or quantities over a period of time. On the other hand, "Accrue" pertains to the gradual growth or accumulation, especially of financial benefits or obligations, typically through periodic additions or natural processes.
While "Accumulate" is a general term and can be used in a range of contexts from collecting objects to gathering knowledge, "Accrue" is commonly associated with financial or formal contexts. For instance, one might accumulate books or knowledge, while interest might accrue on a loan or savings account.
Another distinguishing feature between the two is the speed or manner of growth. Accumulation can happen rapidly or slowly, but it often implies a conscious effort to gather or increase. In contrast, accruing generally implies a more passive or natural progression, where the growth is a result of predefined conditions or set parameters.
Furthermore, "Accumulate" can be used to refer to both tangible and intangible items, like accumulating wealth or experience. "Accrue", however, is primarily used in reference to benefits or amounts that are due or owed, like accruing interest or benefits.
Lastly, while both words can be used in positive and negative contexts, "Accrue" can often have a neutral or formal tone, particularly when used in financial or legal discussions. "Accumulate", meanwhile, is versatile in its usage and tone, suitable for a wider range of contexts.
To gather or amass over time.
To grow, especially by periodic additions.
Tangible and intangible items.
Primarily financial or formal.
Can be rapid or slow, often with effort.
Gradual, often natural or passive.
Versatile, can be positive or negative.
Neutral or formal, especially in financial contexts.
Accumulate points, knowledge.
Accrue interest, benefits.
Accumulate and Accrue Definitions
To result in an increase of something.
The company's profits accumulate with every successful project.
To accumulate or be received periodically, especially as a benefit or interest.
Interest will accrue on the outstanding balance.
To grow or increase in number or quantity.
Over the years, he accumulated a vast collection of rare coins.
To be added or attached, especially as a right or advantage.
The benefits that accrue with seniority.
To amass or build up, especially gradually.
She continues to accumulate accolades for her performance.
To result from or as a natural growth or addition.
Benefits accrue from regular exercise.
To come together or converge in one place.
Rainwater tends to accumulate in the hollow.
To come into one's possession as a gain or increase.
Vacation days accrue over time.
To gather or cause to increase; amass
We accumulated enough wood for a fire. Nearly all bank accounts accumulate interest.
To accumulate over a period without the active effort.
Late fees may accrue if payment is delayed.
To be the site for (a gradually increasing mass), especially as a result of disuse or neglect
Those old books are accumulating dust.
To come to one as a gain, addition, or increment
Interest accruing in my savings account.
To mount or pile up; increase
Snow is accumulating on the roads.
To increase, accumulate, or come about as a result of growth
Common sense that accrues with experience.
(transitive) To heap up in a mass; to pile up; to collect or bring together (either literally or figuratively)
He wishes to accumulate a sum of money.
To come into existence as a claim that is legally enforceable.
(intransitive) To gradually grow or increase in quantity or number.
With her company going bankrupt, her divorce, and a gambling habit, debts started to accumulate so she had to sell her house.
To accumulate over time
I have accrued 15 days of sick leave.
To take a higher degree at the same time with a lower degree, or at a shorter interval than usual.
(intransitive) To increase, to rise
(intransitive) To reach or come to by way of increase; to arise or spring up because of growth or result, especially as the produce of money lent.
To heap up in a mass; to pile up; to collect or bring together; to amass; as, to accumulate a sum of money.
To be incurred as a result of the passage of time.
The monthly financial statements show all the actual but only some of the accrued expenses.
To grow or increase in quantity or number; to increase greatly.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
(transitive) To accumulate.
He has accrued nine sick days.
To become an enforceable and permanent right.
Get or gather together;
I am accumulating evidence for the man's unfaithfulness to his wife
She is amassing a lot of data for her thesis
She rolled up a small fortune
(obsolete) Something that accrues; advantage accruing
Collect or gather;
Journals are accumulating in my office
The work keeps piling up
To increase; to augment.
And though power failed, her courage did accrue.
To gather or collect over a period of time.
I hope to accumulate enough savings for a new car.
To come to by way of increase; to arise or spring as a growth or result; to be added as increase, profit, or damage, especially as the produce of money lent.
The great and essential advantages accruing to society from the freedom of the press.
Something that accrues; advantage accruing.
Grow by addition;
The interest accrues
Come into the possession of;
The house accrued to the oldest son
What does "Accumulate" generally mean?
"Accumulate" means to gather or amass items or quantities over a period of time.
How is "accrue" different from regular growth?
"Accrue" often implies a more specific, systematic, or periodic form of growth, especially in formal or financial contexts.
Can penalties "accrue" for late payments?
Yes, penalties can accrue on late payments based on the terms set.
Is "Accrue" limited to financial contexts?
While often used financially, "accrue" can also refer to any gain over time, like accruing benefits or rights.
Can I say I've "accumulated" experiences on a trip?
Yes, experiences, like many other things, can accumulate over time or during specific activities.
How is "Accrue" commonly used in financial terms?
"Accrue" often refers to the growth of something, especially financial, by periodic additions or natural growth, such as interest accruing on a loan.
Can "Accumulate" be used for intangible items?
Yes, one can accumulate knowledge, experience, or even feelings over time.
If I save money in a bank, does the interest "accumulate" or "accrue"?
Both can be used, but it's more common to say interest "accrues" in banking contexts.
Is "Accumulate" always used in positive contexts?
No, "accumulate" is neutral and can be used in both positive (accumulate wealth) and negative (accumulate debt) situations.
If benefits "accrue," does it mean they're immediately available?
Not necessarily. Benefits that accrue might become available after specific conditions are met, like after a certain period.
What's the difference in connotation between "Accumulate" and "Accrue"?
"Accumulate" often implies active gathering, while "accrue" implies more passive, often natural, growth.
Can a person "accumulate" a reputation?
Yes, a reputation can be accumulated based on one's actions and experiences over time.
Are there any synonyms for "accrue" in a financial sense?
"Compound" can be a synonym when discussing interest, as in "interest accruing or compounding over time."
In legal terms, can rights "accrue" over time?
Yes, rights or benefits can accrue based on conditions met or time passed.
Can you "accumulate" knowledge?
Definitely, knowledge can be accumulated through experiences, education, and continuous learning.
Can I use "accumulate" to describe growing emotions?
Absolutely, emotions like stress or joy can accumulate over time.
How does "accumulate" relate to frequency?
"Accumulate" doesn't specify frequency; it just indicates a buildup over time, which can be rapid or slow.
Written byAimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Edited byHuma Saeed
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