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Input vs. Import: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Input refers to data provided to a system, while import means bringing goods or data into a context from an external source.

Key Differences

Input is the act of providing data, information, or a physical effort into a system for it to process or use, whereas import involves bringing something in from an outside source or jurisdiction, especially for trade or usage in a software context. Input emphasizes the introduction of data or resources into a system, whether it's typing information into a computer or contributing work or information to a project. Import, in contrast, emphasizes the origin of what is being brought in – it is coming from elsewhere, be it another country for goods or another system for data.
Input is a broad term that can apply to various forms of data entry, from manual human interaction to automated sensor readings. It is essential for the operation of any system that requires external data to function. Import, while it can also refer to data, is often used in a commercial or economic context to describe the acquisition of goods or services from another country, thereby entering them into a country's economic system.
Input is an active process involving a user or another system providing information or signals to a device or system. It is fundamental in computing and information processing, enabling interaction and control. Import, though it can be automated, typically involves a deliberate action to bring in resources, data, or goods, often governed by regulations and trade agreements in the context of international commerce.
In computing, input usually refers to the data entered into a computer or software, such as via keyboard, mouse, or other interfaces. In contrast, import in computing means bringing in data from an external file or database into a current application or system. While input is about the action of entering data, import is about the source and integration of that data.
Input can be instantaneous, requiring a real-time response from the system, as seen in live data entry or sensor data acquisition. In contrast, import operations may involve data or goods that have been produced or exist elsewhere and are brought into a new system or location, potentially involving a process of selection, transfer, and integration.

Comparison Chart


Entering data into a system.
Bringing goods or data into a context from outside.


Computing, data entry, user interaction.
Trade, computing, economics.


Providing information, commands, or physical effort.
Acquiring or transferring from a different source or locale.


Originates from the user or sensor.
Originates from external source or country.


Generally none; depends on system architecture.
Often subject to legal, economic, or technical standards.

Input and Import Definitions


Feedback or advice given.
The manager asked for employee input on the new policy.


To bring goods from a foreign country.
We import coffee beans from Colombia.


Data fed into a computer.
The input from the keyboard is not recognized.


To introduce ideas from one context to another.
He imported his management style from his previous job.


Contribution of information.
Please input your password to access the account.


The significance or importance of something.
The import of her statement was not lost on the audience.


Energy or signals put into a system.
The audio input must be plugged into the correct jack.


To transfer data from one program to another.
Import the CSV file into the database.


Physical actuation in machinery.
Input the correct settings into the machine to start the process.


Bringing in a new variable or module in programming.
Import the library at the beginning of your Python script.


Energy, work, or power used to drive a machine.


To bring or carry in from an outside source, especially to bring in (goods or materials) from a foreign country for trade or sale.


Current, electromotive force, or power supplied to an electric circuit, network, or device.


(Computers) To receive (data) into one program from another.


What does "input" mean in computer terminology?

In computing, "input" refers to data or commands entered into the computer system.

Is "input" used in programming?

Yes, programmers often require user input for software to function interactively.

Can "input" refer to something other than data?

Yes, it can also mean contributions of effort or information in non-computing contexts.

Can "import" be used in a computing context?

Yes, it can mean bringing data or code from one software program into another.

Are there any synonyms for "input"?

Yes, contributions, data, feedback, are a few examples.

Is "input" a noun, a verb, or both?

It can be both, depending on the context.

What does "import" mean in trade?

In trade, it refers to buying or acquiring goods from another country.

Is "import" related to the importance of something?

Not directly; however, the noun "import" can mean the significance of something.

Does "input" imply any source restrictions?

No, input can come from internal or external sources within the relevant system.

Is user "input" always manual?

No, it can also be automated through sensors or programmed events.

Does "input" only come from individuals?

No, it can also come from groups or automated systems.

Does "import" have any legal implications?

Yes, especially in trade, where it's subject to customs and regulations.

What are synonyms for "import" in the context of trade?

Some synonyms are importation, procurement, and acquisition.

Are "imports" always physical goods?

No, they can also be services or digital data.

Can "import" function as a verb and a noun?

Yes, it serves as both in different contexts.

How would you use "import" in a sentence?

"The country plans to import more natural gas."

Are there restrictions on what can be "imported"?

Yes, based on a country's laws and regulations regarding trade.

What's an example of "input" in a sentence?

"She gave her input during the meeting."

Can "input" influence a system's output?

Yes, input directly affects the output in most systems.

Are "imports" essential for a country's economy?

Yes, they are crucial for meeting consumer demand and driving competition.
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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