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Grow vs. Thrive: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 29, 2023
"Grow" means to increase in size or amount, while "thrive" implies flourishing and prospering beyond just growth.

Key Differences

"Grow" generally refers to the process of increasing in size, quantity, or maturity. It is a fundamental concept in both biological and non-biological contexts. "Thrive," on the other hand, goes beyond mere growth, indicating a state of flourishing, success, or good health.
In the context of plants, "grow" means the physical process of developing, such as sprouting leaves and roots. Conversely, to "thrive" suggests that a plant is not only growing but also robust, healthy, and vigorous in its environment.
For businesses and individuals, "grow" can mean expansion or progress in capabilities, knowledge, or assets. "Thrive," in these contexts, implies achieving success, prosperity, or reaching an optimal state of well-being.
"Grow" can sometimes signify a gradual or slow process. It encompasses a wide range of development stages. "Thrive" typically suggests a more dynamic, energetic, and positive outcome, often indicating a level of success or vitality.
In personal development, "grow" refers to the process of maturing or developing skills and attributes. To "thrive" is to utilize one's growth to achieve a high level of competency, happiness, or fulfillment.

Comparison Chart

Basic Meaning

Increase in size, quantity, or maturity
Flourish, prosper, be successful


Biological, personal, business growth
Successful, healthy state beyond growth

Indicator of Success

Not necessarily
Yes, implies successful outcomes

Energy Level

Can be gradual or passive
Dynamic, active, energetic


General development
Optimal, superior state of being

Grow and Thrive Definitions


Personal Maturation.
As we grow older, we gain more wisdom.


Prosper Financially.
The business thrived in the booming economy.


Skill Enhancement.
With practice, you'll grow your abilities in the sport.


Achieve Success.
She thrived in her new career.


Business Expansion.
The company aims to grow its market share.


Flourish Emotionally.
He thrives when surrounded by supportive friends.


Increase in Quantity.
Our savings account will grow with regular deposits.


Prosper in Environment.
Plants thrive in this sunny spot.


Physical Development.
The tree will grow taller each year.


Excel in Health.
The child thrived after proper nutrition.


To increase in size by a natural process.


To grow vigorously; flourish
Some plants thrive in sandy soil.


To expand; gain
The business grew under new owners.


To be successful or make steady progress; prosper
The town has been thriving on tourism.


To grow or increase stature; to grow vigorously or luxuriantly, to flourish.
Not all animals thrive well in captivity.
To thrive upon hard work


To increase in wealth or success; to prosper, be profitable.
Since expanding in June, the business has really thrived.


To prosper by industry, economy, and good management of property; to increase in goods and estate; as, a farmer thrives by good husbandry.
Diligence and humility is the way to thrive in the riches of the understanding, as well as in gold.


To prosper in any business; to have increase or success.
O son, why sit we here, each other viewingIdly, while Satan, our great author, thrives?
And so she throve and prospered.


To increase in bulk or stature; to grow vigorously or luxuriantly, as a plant; to flourish; as, young cattle thrive in rich pastures; trees thrive in a good soil.


Grow stronger;
The economy was booming


Gain in wealth


Can "grow" be used for non-living things?

Yes, "grow" can refer to non-living things like businesses or economies.

Is "thrive" used for short-term success?

"Thrive" often implies sustained or long-term success.

Does "thrive" have an emotional connotation?

Yes, "thrive" can imply emotional well-being or happiness.

Does "thrive" always imply positive growth?

Yes, "thrive" usually suggests positive and successful development.

Can "grow" indicate negative development?

Yes, "grow" can be used neutrally, including negative aspects like growing debt.

Can "grow" imply maturity?

Yes, "grow" can refer to the process of maturing or aging.

Is "grow" always visible or measurable?

Not always; "grow" can refer to intangible development like skills or knowledge.

Can "grow" be used in a financial context?

Yes, "grow" can refer to financial growth like investments or profits.

Can "grow" refer to gradual changes?

Yes, "grow" often implies gradual or steady development.

Is "thrive" appropriate for describing slow progress?

No, "thrive" typically indicates vigorous or successful progress.

Can "thrive" refer to overcoming adversity?

Yes, "thrive" often implies succeeding despite challenges.

Does "thrive" imply a certain level of quality?

Yes, "thrive" suggests high-quality or optimal conditions.

Is "grow" used in technology contexts?

Yes, "grow" can describe the expansion or development of technology.

Is "grow" applicable to emotional growth?

Yes, "grow" can refer to emotional or psychological development.

Can "thrive" be used in a negative context?

Rarely; "thrive" is generally used in positive or successful contexts.

Does "thrive" imply adaptability?

Yes, thriving often includes adapting well to one's environment.

Does "thrive" require external factors?

Often, thriving is influenced by external conditions or opportunities.

Is "thrive" commonly used in educational contexts?

Yes, it can refer to students or institutions achieving excellence.

Can "grow" be used metaphorically?

Yes, "grow" is often used metaphorically, like growing understanding.

Is "grow" suitable for describing quick changes?

"Grow" can refer to both quick and slow changes depending on context.
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
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.

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