Difference Between Cumulative and Accumulative

Main Difference

Both the words are used interchangeably as they mean the addition in the total. Deriving it exactly from the phenomena, these words are regularly used as each others synonym as many doesn’t bother addition of ‘Ac’ in the world cumulative. Increasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions is called Cumulative, whereas, gathering or growing by gradual increase is called Accumulative. The addition in cumulative is the increase by successive additions, different contributions get up together to make increase in the total, while accumulative is the addition in the total that comes gradually. The increase in the accumulative comes up along with time.

Comparison Chart

CumulativeAccumulative
DefinitionIncreasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions is called Cumulative.Gathering or growing by gradual increase is called Accumulative
Use in Sentence‘The cumulative effect of two years of drought.’‘The accumulative effects of the cigarette damaged his lungs.’
ExampleIn a cricket match a teams total score is a cumulative addition as different batsmen add up successively in the total to make it a grand total.A man gets 5% increase in salary every year, the increase in the salary comes gradually or annually so that is why it is an accumulative addition.
Addition comesWith ‘successive additions’Gradually

What is Cumulative?

Cumulative is an adjective that generally means addition in the total, that too coming from the successive contributors. Means the increase in quantity, degree or force comes in with different factors adding up there.

Example: In the phrase ‘the cumulative effect of two years of drought’, different factors of drought combine in to describe the effect, that can witness the increase or decrease in the final effect being talked about here.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘Increasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions’ is called cumulative. The increase in the whole or total quantity takes place with the certain factors and successive additions.

Example: In a cricket match a teams total score is a cumulative addition as different batsmen add up successively in the total to make it a grand total.

What is Accumulative?

Accumulative is an adjective that also stands for the addition in the total, though here the addition comes in gradually, irrespective of any successive additions. Or the addition coming in here comes with time. In this the additions or factors taking apart in making it are not identified, it is solely about the increase in the total that comes gradually.

Example: A man gets 5% increase in salary every year, the increase in the salary comes gradually or annually so that is why it is an accumulative addition.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘Gathering or growing by gradual increases’ is called accumulative. The addition in the total comes up timely or slowly, without any interference of successive additions.

Example:‘The accumulative effects of the cigarette damaged his lungs’, these effect came up with the passage of time or we can call them the gradual effects.

Cumulative vs. Accumulative

  • Increasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions is called Cumulative, whereas, gathering or growing by gradual increase is called Accumulative.
  • Cumulative is the addition that comes up with successive contributors, while accumulative is the addition that happens gradually.
  • In cumulative it does not imply whether the increase is gradual or not, while in accumulative it implies that the increase is gradual.

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Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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