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Innovative vs. Novel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on September 24, 2023
"Innovative" refers to introducing new ideas or methods, while "novel" means new and not resembling something formerly known.

Key Differences

1. "Innovative" often denotes a concept, product, or method that not only is new but also introduces a change that improves upon existing standards. In contrast, "novel" is a broader term that primarily signifies something is new or unfamiliar, without necessarily implying improvement.
2. An innovative solution usually addresses a specific problem with a fresh approach or method, often bringing efficiency or advancement. A novel solution, however, might simply be a new way of addressing the problem, without the implication of it being a better or advanced approach.
3. Products described as "innovative" typically include features or designs that set new precedents in their field. When a product is referred to as "novel," it could mean that it's a fresh introduction to the market, regardless of whether it introduces groundbreaking changes.
4. While "innovative" carries with it an element of progressiveness and transformation in its definition, "novel" is more neutral and only speaks to the newness or unfamiliarity of something.
5. It's worth noting that while "innovative" usually pertains to inventions, ideas, or methods, "novel" has a broader application and can describe anything from experiences to physical objects.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Adjective (also Noun when referring to books)


Newness with improvement or change
Simple newness or unfamiliarity

Usage Example

"They introduced an innovative software."
"He had a novel idea for the project."

Common Contexts

Technology, methods, approaches
Ideas, experiences, discoveries


Progressiveness and change
Freshness and originality

Innovative and Novel Definitions


Marked by a novel way of thinking.
Her innovative approach solved the longstanding problem.


Original and not resembling something done or known before.
Her proposal had a novel twist.


Featuring new methods or ideas.
The company is known for its innovative designs.


(As a noun) A fictional prose narrative.
She wrote a bestselling novel.


Representing a departure from established norms or standards.
The innovative art installation drew crowds from all over.


Unusual or different from the norm.
The chef's novel combinations intrigued food critics.


Pioneering in a particular field or industry.
Their innovative technology set them apart from competitors.


New or unfamiliar.
It was a novel experience for him.


Introducing fresh concepts or methods.
The teacher's innovative techniques engaged all students.


Fresh and unique in design or style.
The architect's novel use of materials was praised.


Marked by innovation or given to making innovations.


A fictional prose narrative of considerable length, typically having a plot that is unfolded by the actions, speech, and thoughts of the characters.


Characterized by the creation of new ideas or inventions.


The literary genre represented by novels.


Forward-looking; ahead of current thinking.


Strikingly new, unusual, or different.


Characterized by, or introducing, innovations.


Newly made, formed or evolved; having no precedent; of recent origin; new.


Ahead of the times;
The advanced teaching methods
Had advanced views on the subject
A forward-looking corporation
Is British industry innovative enough?


Original, especially in an interesting way; new and striking; not of the typical or ordinary type.


Being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before;
Stylistically innovative works
Innovative members of the artistic community
A mind so innovational, so original


A work of prose fiction, longer than a novella.


(historical) A fable; a short tale, especially one of many making up a larger work.


(obsolete) A novelty; something new.


A new legal constitution in ancient Rome.


Of recent origin or introduction; not ancient; new; hence, out of the ordinary course; unusual; strange; surprising.


That which is new or unusual; a novelty.


News; fresh tidings.
Some came of curiosity to hear some novels.


A fictitious tale or narrative, longer than a short story, having some degree of complexity and development of characters; it is usually organized as a time sequence of events, and is commonly intended to exhibit the operation of the passions, and often of love.


A extended fictional work in prose; usually in the form of a story


A printed and bound book that is an extended work of fiction;
His bookcases were filled with nothing but novels
He burned all the novels


Of a kind not seen before;
The computer produced a completely novel proof of a well-known theorem


Pleasantly novel or different;
Common sense of a most refreshing sort


How is "novel" different when used as a noun?

As a noun, "novel" refers to a long fictional prose narrative.

Is every novel idea also innovative?

Not always. While all innovative ideas are novel, not all novel ideas introduce an improvement or change.

Does "innovative" always mean something is better?

Not necessarily, but it implies a new approach or improvement.

Can "novel" refer to something old that's newly discovered?

Yes, "novel" can refer to something newly introduced or recognized, even if it's been existing.

Does an "innovative" solution always work better?

Not always. While innovative suggests a new approach, it doesn't guarantee success.

Why is "novelty" related to "novel"?

"Novelty" is derived from "novel," indicating the state or quality of being novel.

Can an experience be described as "novel"?

Yes, if the experience is new or unfamiliar, it can be termed "novel."

Can an "innovative" idea be simple?

Yes, innovation isn't always about complexity; sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most innovative.

Is a "novel" always a work of fiction?

Generally, in the context of books, yes, a "novel" refers to a work of fiction.

Can a product be both innovative and novel?

Yes, a product can be both new (novel) and introduce changes or improvements (innovative).

Is "innovative" limited to technology or products?

No, it can also refer to methods, ideas, or any field that experiences change and improvement.

How is "innovative" related to "innovation"?

"Innovative" describes something characterized by innovation, while "innovation" is the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.

Can a person be described as "innovative"?

Yes, if they often come up with new methods or ideas.

Is a "novel" approach always a good one?

Not necessarily; it's just a new or different approach. It might be good or not depending on its outcomes.

Are all innovations also novel?

Yes, since innovations introduce new methods or ideas, they are inherently novel.
About Author
Written 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.
Edited 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.

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