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Important vs. Significant: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 5, 2024
Important refers to pertaining to matters of great value or consequence. Significant refers to indicating or having considerable meaning, influence, or effect.

Key Differences

The word "important" typically refers to something of great value, relevance, or consequence in a given context. It suggests a level of priority or necessity. On the other hand, "significant" often implies that something has a notable impact or influence. It carries a sense of measurable importance or effect.
When we say something is important, we are often referring to its intrinsic value or critical role in a specific situation. For instance, an important decision has far-reaching consequences. Conversely, "significant" often implies a quantifiable or observable impact. A significant change is one that can be clearly perceived or measured.
In terms of usage, "important" often relates to subjective valuation, where the importance of something may vary based on personal or situational factors. In contrast, "significant" is frequently used in contexts where objective assessment is possible, such as statistical significance in research.
The emotional connotation of "important" tends to be stronger, suggesting something that demands attention or care. "Significant," however, often carries a more analytical tone, suggesting a reasoned evaluation of impact or meaning.
"Important" is a word that conveys a sense of urgency or priority, something that cannot be overlooked. "Significant" speaks more to the breadth or depth of an effect or meaning, highlighting the extent of impact or relevance.

Comparison Chart

Context of Use

Subjective valuation, personal or situational relevance
Objective assessment, measurable impact


Intrinsic value, necessity, urgency
Observable impact, meaningfulness

Emotional Tone

Emotional, urgent
Analytical, reasoned

Scale of Impact

Personal, immediate relevance
Broad or deep impact, long-term relevance

Usage in Language

Often used in personal or emotional contexts
Commonly used in scientific or statistical contexts

Important and Significant Definitions


Having serious or significant consequences.
An important decision can alter the course of one's life.


Having a particular meaning; indicative of something.
Her nod was significant, indicating her agreement.


Worthy of attention or consideration.
The president's speech is an important event.


Statistically meaningful.
The results of the study were statistically significant.


Essential to the completeness of a whole.
Each component is important for the machine's operation.


Having a noticeable or marked effect or influence.
There has been a significant increase in sales.


Crucial to the success or effectiveness of something.
It's important to drink water regularly for good health.


Conveying a special or hidden meaning.
His words held a significant undertone.


Having high rank or status.
The CEO is an important figure in the company.


Sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention.
The scientist made a significant discovery.


Strongly affecting the course of events or the nature of things; significant
An important message that must get through.
Close friends who are important to me.


Having or expressing a meaning
Are the markings on the stone significant?.


Is "important" subjective or objective?

"Important" is more subjective, depending on personal or situational factors.

Can "significant" imply statistical relevance?

Yes, "significant" is often used to denote statistical relevance or a measurable impact.

Does "significant" always mean something positive?

No, "significant" is neutral, indicating impact or meaning without implying positivity or negativity.

Can something be important but not significant?

Yes, something can be personally important without having a broad or measurable impact.

Can "significant" refer to symbolic meanings?

Yes, "significant" can indicate symbolic or hidden meanings in certain contexts.

How does urgency relate to "important"?

"Important" often conveys a sense of urgency or priority.

What contexts is "important" most commonly used in?

"Important" is used in contexts where value, priority, or necessity is emphasized.

Is "significant" used more in scientific contexts?

Yes, "significant" is commonly used in scientific or statistical contexts to denote measurable effects.

Does "important" imply a ranking or hierarchy?

Often, "important" implies a higher rank or priority in a specific hierarchy or system.

Can an object be significant?

Yes, an object can be significant if it holds a particular meaning or has a noticeable effect.

Is "important" more subjective than "significant"?

Generally, yes. "Important" is often more subjective and personal.

Are there synonyms that can replace "important" and "significant"?

Yes, words like "crucial," "vital," "notable," and "meaningful" can be used as substitutes.

Can an event be significant but not important to everyone?

Yes, an event can have a significant impact without being personally important to everyone.

How does emotional weight compare between "important" and "significant"?

"Important" often carries more emotional weight, while "significant" is more analytical.

Can "significant" be used in everyday language?

Yes, "significant" is used in everyday language to denote importance or meaningfulness.

Can "significant" imply a change or development?

Yes, "significant" often implies a notable change or development.

Can "important" and "significant" be used interchangeably?

Sometimes, but careful consideration of the context is necessary, as they have nuanced differences.

Is "significant" a qualitative or quantitative term?

"Significant" can be both, but it's often used quantitatively to denote measurable impact.

Does "important" apply to short-term or long-term scenarios?

"Important" can apply to both, depending on the context and perspective.

How do "important" and "significant" differ in conveying priority?

"Important" directly conveys priority, while "significant" indicates impact or meaning, which can imply priority.
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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