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Accurate vs. Precise: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 18, 2023
Accurate means being correct or on target, while Precise means being exact, often regarding detail or measurement.

Key Differences

Accurate describes the closeness of a measurement to its true or accepted value. If you were to aim at a target, hitting the bullseye would mean your shot was Accurate.
Precise, on the other hand, relates to the consistency of measurements or outcomes. In the context of the target, if all your arrows land close together, even if they miss the bullseye, your shots are Precise.
It's possible for measurements to be Accurate without being Precise and vice versa. For example, if three weight scales give readings of 150.2, 150.3, and 150.1 pounds, they are Precise. However, if the actual weight is 160 pounds, they aren't Accurate.
Conversely, if those scales read 159.8, 160.1, and 160.3 pounds, they are Accurate but not as Precise. The distinction between Accurate and Precise, therefore, is essential in various fields, especially in science and engineering, where both attributes might be crucial.

Comparison Chart


Correctness relative to a standard or target.
Exactness in detail or measurement.


Reflects truthfulness or validity.
Reflects consistency or reproducibility.


Hitting the bullseye in darts.
All darts landing close together, regardless of position.


Aligns with actual value or fact.
Maintains a consistent pattern or detail.


Being "on target".
Repeatedly achieving the same result.

Accurate and Precise Definitions


Correct in all details.
The replica was an Accurate representation of the original painting.


Marked by exactness and accuracy of expression.
She gave a Precise description of the thief.


Free from errors.
The machine gave an Accurate measurement of the distance.


Strictly distinguished from others.
He has Precise criteria for selecting candidates.


Representing the truth.
The documentary provided an Accurate account of the events.


Being exact in measurement.
The tool allowed for Precise cuts.


On target or precise.
His prediction about the weather was surprisingly Accurate.


Distinct in its quality or nature.
The scientist made Precise adjustments to the equipment.


Conforming exactly to fact; errorless.


Clearly expressed or delineated; definite
The victim gave a precise description of the suspect.


Deviating only slightly or within acceptable limits from a standard.


Exact, as in performance, execution, or amount; accurate or correct
A precise measurement.
A precise instrument.


Capable of providing a correct reading or measurement
An accurate scale.


Strictly distinguished from others; very
At that precise moment.


Acting or performing with care and precision; meticulous
An accurate proofreader.


Distinct and correct in sound or meaning
Precise pronunciation.
Precise prose.


Telling the truth or giving a true result; exact; not defective or faulty
An accurate calculator
An accurate measure
Accurate knowledge


Conforming strictly to rule or proper form
"The setting up of this Maypole was a lamentable spectacle to the precise separatists that lived at New Plymouth" (Thomas Morton).


Deviating only slightly or within acceptable limits.
My horoscopes I read last week were surprisingly accurate.


Exact, accurate


(obsolete) Precisely fixed; executed with care; careful.


Consistent, clustered close together, agreeing with each other this does not mean that they cluster near the true, correct, or accurate value


In exact or careful conformity to truth, or to some standard of requirement, the result of care or pains; free from failure, error, or defect; exact; as, an accurate calculator; an accurate measure; accurate expression, knowledge, etc.


Adhering too much to rules; prim or punctilious


Precisely fixed; executed with care; careful.
Those conceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these things below.


To make or render precise; to specify.


Conforming exactly or almost exactly to fact or to a standard or performing with total accuracy;
An accurate reproduction
The accounting was accurate
Accurate measurements
An accurate scale


Having determinate limitations; exactly or sharply defined or stated; definite; exact; nice; not vague or equivocal; as, precise rules of morality.
The law in this point is not precise.
For the hour preciseExacts our parting hence.


(of ideas, images, representations, expressions) characterized by perfect conformity to fact or truth ; strictly correct;
A precise image
A precise measurement


Strictly adhering or conforming to rule; very nice or exact; punctilious in conduct or ceremony; formal; ceremonious.
He was ever precise in promise-keeping.


Conforming exactly to fact.
Her testimony was Accurate, without any embellishments.


Sharply exact or accurate or delimited;
A precise mind
Specified a precise amount
Arrived at the precise moment


(of ideas, images, representations, expressions) characterized by perfect conformity to fact or truth ; strictly correct;
A precise image
A precise measurement


Carefully distinct.
The artist used Precise strokes while painting.


In scientific experiments, which is more important, being Accurate or Precise?

Both can be crucial, but the importance varies based on the experiment's goals and context.

How do you improve accuracy?

Improve accuracy by calibrating equipment, using reliable sources, and checking against known standards.

Can a measurement be both Accurate and Precise?

Yes, a measurement can be both on target (Accurate) and consistently so (Precise).

Can a tool be Precise but not Accurate?

Yes, a tool can consistently give similar results (Precise) that are not correct (not Accurate).

How do industries ensure both accuracy and precision in production?

Industries employ quality control, regular equipment calibration, and standardized procedures.

In which professions is precision more valued than accuracy?

In professions like machining or watchmaking, precision (consistent detail) may be more valued than mere correctness.

How do dictionaries define Accurate and Precise?

Dictionaries typically define Accurate as "correct" and Precise as "exact or specific."

How is Accurate different from Precise?

Accurate relates to correctness, while Precise relates to exactness and detail.

Is accuracy about quality and precision about quantity?

Not necessarily. Accurate refers to correctness, while Precise refers to exactness, regardless of quality or quantity.

Can a statement be considered Accurate but not Precise?

Yes, a statement can be generally correct (Accurate) without going into exact details (not Precise).

Why are both accuracy and precision important in scientific research?

In research, accuracy ensures validity, and precision ensures reproducibility, both crucial for reliable results.

How do GPS devices ensure accuracy and precision?

GPS devices use signals from multiple satellites, error correction techniques, and regular updates.

Why do artists need to be both Accurate and Precise?

Artists may need accuracy for realistic representation and precision for consistent style or technique.

Is a bullseye hit both Accurate and Precise?

A single bullseye hit is Accurate. If multiple shots consistently hit the bullseye, they are also Precise.

Can human perceptions be both Accurate and Precise?

Human perceptions can vary, but training and experience can improve both accuracy and precision.

How can one check the accuracy and precision of an instrument?

Check accuracy against a known standard and precision by taking repeated measurements to see consistency.

How can one ensure precision?

Ensure precision by maintaining consistent methods, regularly calibrating tools, and reducing variables.

In what scenarios is accuracy more important than precision?

In medical diagnoses or navigation, accuracy (being correct) might be more vital than precision.

Is there a tool to measure both accuracy and precision?

In many fields, tools like statistical software can help evaluate both accuracy and precision of data.

Are Accurate and Precise synonymous?

No, while related, Accurate means "correct," and Precise means "exact or detailed."
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie 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.

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