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Excrete vs. Secrete: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 18, 2023
Excrete is to remove waste from the body, while secrete involves producing and releasing substances for specific functions.

Key Differences

Excretion is the process of eliminating waste products from the body, essential for maintaining homeostasis. It typically involves the removal of substances that are no longer useful or could be harmful if accumulated. Secretion, on the other hand, is a vital biological process where cells or glands produce and release substances that perform specific functions in the body. These substances include hormones, enzymes, and mucus, which are crucial for various physiological activities.
Organs like the kidneys, lungs, and skin are primarily involved in excretion. The kidneys, for example, filter blood to remove excess water, salts, and waste products, which are then excreted as urine. Secretion involves organs and glands like the salivary glands, pancreas, and sweat glands. These glands secrete substances such as saliva, digestive enzymes, and sweat, each playing a unique role in digestion, regulation of body temperature, and other bodily functions.
The process of excretion is primarily about waste removal and detoxification. It's a way for the body to rid itself of by-products of metabolism and other non-useful materials. Secretion, however, is about producing substances that the body needs to function properly, like hormones that regulate body processes or enzymes that aid in digestion.
Excretion is a process that often involves filtration and expulsion of substances, largely passive and driven by bodily functions. In contrast, secretion is an active process where cells actively synthesize and release substances either internally or externally, often involving complex biochemical pathways.
Both excretion and secretion are vital for maintaining health, their purposes are distinct. Excretion is about maintaining the internal environment by removing waste, whereas secretion is about providing the necessary substances to carry out specific biological functions.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Elimination of waste products
Production and release of substances

Involved Organs

Kidneys, lungs, skin
Salivary glands, pancreas, sweat glands


Detoxification, waste removal
Facilitating physiological functions

Nature of Process

Often passive, filtration-based
Active, involving synthesis and release

Types of Substances Involved

Waste products, toxins
Hormones, enzymes, mucus

Excrete and Secrete Definitions


This term is used to describe the elimination of harmful substances from the body.
Plants can excrete excess water through transpiration.


Secrete means to produce and release substances for specific bodily functions.
The liver secretes bile to aid in digestion.


Excrete means to discharge waste substances from cells or organs.
The lungs excrete carbon dioxide as a waste product of respiration.


Secrete encompasses the generation and discharge of substances like hormones or enzymes.
Endocrine glands secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream.


Excrete encompasses the removal of unusable or excess substances from the organism.
Birds excrete uric acid as a means of conserving water.


Secrete involves the exudation of necessary materials for various physiological activities.
Plants secrete nectar to attract pollinators.


Excrete refers to the process of eliminating waste materials from the body.
The kidneys excrete toxins from the blood in the form of urine.


It refers to the process by which cells or glands release essential biochemical substances.
Bees secrete wax to build their hives.


It's the bodily function of removing by-products of metabolism.
Sweating helps excrete excess salts and toxins through the skin.


This term is used for the active process of substance emission in living organisms.
The stomach secretes gastric juices to break down food.


To separate and discharge (waste matter) from the blood, tissues, or organs.


To discharge material (including waste products) from a cell, body or system.
Your open pores excrete sweat and dirt.


To separate and throw off; to excrete urine.


Eliminate from the body;
Pass a kidney stone


What does excrete mean?

Excrete refers to the process of removing waste materials from the body.

Which organs are primarily involved in excretion?

The kidneys, lungs, and skin are key organs involved in excretion.

What is an example of a secreting organ?

The pancreas, secreting digestive enzymes, is an example of a secreting organ.

Can a single organ excrete and secrete?

Yes, some organs like the skin can both excrete (sweat) and secrete (oils).

Are all secretions beneficial?

Most secretions are beneficial, but some, like excessive oil production, can be problematic.

What does secrete mean?

Secrete involves producing and releasing substances for specific bodily functions.

How do excretion and secretion differ in purpose?

Excretion removes waste, while secretion provides essential substances for body functions.

Is excretion a passive process?

Yes, excretion is often a passive, filtration-based process.

Is secretion an active or passive process?

Secretion is an active process involving the synthesis and release of substances.

What substances are commonly secreted?

Hormones, enzymes, and mucus are commonly secreted substances.

Why is excretion important for health?

Excretion is crucial for detoxifying the body and maintaining homeostasis.

What are examples of substances excreted?

Urine, carbon dioxide, and sweat are examples of excreted substances.

How does secretion support bodily functions?

Secretion supports functions like digestion, temperature regulation, and hormone balance.

Can malfunction in excretion lead to health issues?

Yes, problems in excretion can lead to toxin build-up and health issues.

How do secretions regulate body processes?

Secretions like hormones regulate processes such as growth, metabolism, and mood.

Does excretion only occur in animals?

No, excretion occurs in all living organisms, including plants.

Can excretion involve solid waste?

Yes, excretion can involve solid waste, like feces in the digestive system.

Is urine an example of excretion or secretion?

Urine is an example of excretion, removing waste from the body.

Can secretions be artificially influenced?

Yes, secretions can be influenced by medications and treatments in medical settings.

Is saliva an excreted or secreted substance?

Saliva is secreted by salivary glands to aid in digestion and oral health.
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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