Difference Wiki

Approval vs. Consent: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
Approval is agreement, often after consideration, signifying a positive opinion; consent is permission, often for something specific.

Key Differences

Approval implies a positive judgment about the merits or quality of something. Consent is an agreement or permission granted by someone with the authority or capacity to do so, often for a specific act.
Approval can come in various forms such as nods, formal documents, or public announcements, and is often sought from those in positions of authority or expertise. Consent, on the other hand, is a more personal granting of permission, and can be necessary in legal, social, or personal contexts to allow actions that affect someone's autonomy or property.
Gaining approval usually involves meeting set standards or criteria. Consent must be obtained freely and voluntarily, with a full understanding of what is being consented to, and without any form of coercion.
Approval can be tacit, such as in the form of silent acknowledgment, or explicit, through verbal or written affirmation. Consent, especially in legal terms, typically requires a clear and unequivocal agreement, and may need to be documented for clarity and legal validity.
Approval is often related to acceptance or endorsement of ideas, projects, or behavior. Consent is fundamentally about the right to say yes or no to something that affects oneself, and is a cornerstone of ethical conduct in many areas including research, medical treatment, and personal relationships.

Comparison Chart


Agreement or positive opinion
Permission or agreement for something specific


Often professional or formal
Legal, personal, and ethical


Can be implicit or unsolicited
Must be voluntary and intentional


Can be verbal, written, or nonverbal
Often requires clear, explicit communication


May or may not be documented
Often requires documentation for legality

Approval and Consent Definitions


Acceptance of a plan.
The committee gave their approval for the project.


Voluntary approval.
The consent to search was given freely.


Official sanction.
The drug received FDA approval.


Permission for something.
She gave her consent for the medical procedure.


Agreement with a decision.
His choice received parental approval.


Assent to terms.
They reached consent on the contract.


Favorable judgment.
The design won the approval of the board.


Legal acquiescence.
The law requires consent for data collection.


Positive opinion.
Her work gained the professor's approval.


Agreement to participate.
He signed the form, indicating his consent.


The act or an instance of approving.


To give assent, as to the proposal of another; agree
Consent to medical treatment.
Consent to going on a business trip.
Consent to see someone on short notice.


An official approbation; a sanction.


(Archaic) To be of the same mind or opinion.


Is approval necessary for consent?

Not always; you can consent without approval and vice versa.

Can children give legal consent?

Typically, children cannot give legal consent; a guardian does.

Is approval subjective?

Approval often involves personal or organizational standards.

Can you withdraw approval?

Yes, approval can be withdrawn if conditions change.

Can approval be implicit?

Yes, approval can be implicit or explicit.

Is approval the same as consent?

No, approval is a positive opinion; consent is permission.

Does consent need to be explicit?

Yes, consent should be clear and unequivocal.

Is approval legally binding?

Approval itself is not a legal contract, but may be part of one.

Does consent have legal implications?

Yes, consent can carry significant legal weight.

Is parental consent important?

Yes, especially for minors in medical or legal situations.

Can silence mean consent?

Legally, silence typically does not constitute consent.

Do regulations require approval?

Many regulations and standards require formal approval.

Can approval be conditional?

Yes, approval can be given with certain conditions.

Must consent be informed?

Yes, consent must be informed and voluntary.

Can consent be withdrawn?

Yes, consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Can approval be assumed?

It can be, but it’s better to seek explicit approval.

Is approval necessary for publishing?

Often, yes, especially in academic or professional settings.

Is consent always required for medical treatment?

Yes, except in emergencies when the patient cannot consent.

Can company policies dictate approval processes?

Yes, companies often have specific procedures for granting approval.

What constitutes consent?

Consent is a clear and voluntary agreement to something.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
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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