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Stationary vs. Stationery: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 16, 2023
Stationary refers to something that is not moving. Stationery pertains to writing and office supplies.

Key Differences

Stationary and Stationery, although phonetically similar, bear different meanings and applications. Stationary is an adjective that describes something which is not in motion, or something that remains in a fixed position. On the contrary, Stationery is a noun, referring to writing materials, such as pens, pencils, paper, and other office-related supplies.
When looking at Stationary, it pertains to stillness or lack of movement. For instance, a car parked on the street or a person standing still in a queue would be described as stationary. This term can be used in various contexts, from physical objects to more abstract concepts, as long as the focus is on the absence of movement or change. Stationery, in contrast, encompasses items commonly used in an office or for writing. It's a term often associated with school supplies, letterheads, and similar materials.
Additionally, Stationary's usage is vast, stretching across numerous fields. In physics, for example, a "stationary wave" is one that does not appear to be traveling. Meanwhile, Stationery primarily finds its place in discussions about office supplies, academic settings, or writing. It's a term familiar to those in educational or administrative settings.
In essence, while Stationary revolves around the concept of stillness or remaining unchanged, Stationery deals with items related to writing and office tasks. Their similarity in pronunciation often leads to confusion, but their meanings and applications are distinctly separate.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Not moving or not changing
Writing and office supplies


Fixed objects, unchanged conditions
Pens, paper, envelopes


Describes stillness or absence of movement
Refers to items used for writing or in an office

Field of Use

General, Physics, Mathematics
Office, School, Retail

Stationary and Stationery Definitions


Not progressing or regressing.
The company's profits have been stationary this quarter.


Office supplies.
The store offers a discount on stationery during back-to-school season.


Unchanged in condition.
His health has been stationary for the past few months.


Writing materials.
She purchased some stationery for her new office desk.


Fixed in a place or position.
The stationary bike in the gym is her favorite equipment.


Products associated with written communication.
The stationery store in town has an exquisite collection of fountain pens.


Lacking movement or development.
The project seems to be in a stationary phase with no advancements.


Materials used for correspondence.
He chose the finest stationery for his wedding invitations.


Not moving.


Paper goods and writing implements.
The artist had a drawer filled with colorful stationery.


Not capable of being moved; fixed.


Writing paper and envelopes.


A stationary sound.


Writing materials and office supplies.


One that is stationary.


Writing materials, envelopes, office materials.
When the school year finished, he put all of his stationery away in the loft, as he would have no need for pencils and exercise books during the holidays.
We can pick up more paper and pens at the stationery store.


Not moving.
The train remained stationary for a few moments, before lurching forward along the track.


The articles usually sold by stationers, as paper, pens, ink, quills, blank books, etc.


Incapable of being moved


Belonging to, or sold by, a stationer.




Paper cut to an appropriate size for writing letters; usually with matching envelopes


One who, or that which, is stationary, such as a planet when apparently it has neither progressive nor retrograde motion.


Misspelling of stationery


Not moving; not appearing to move; stable; fixed.
Charles Wesley, who is a more stationary man, does not believe the story.


Not improving or getting worse; not growing wiser, greater, better, more excellent, or the contrary.


Appearing to be at rest, because moving in the line of vision; not progressive or retrograde, as a planet.


One who, or that which, is stationary, as a planet when apparently it has neither progressive nor retrograde motion.


Standing still;
The car remained stationary with the engine running


Not capable of being moved;
Stationary machinery


Which one relates to a car not moving?


Does Stationery only refer to paper?

No, it includes various writing and office supplies.

What can be found in a stationery store?

Writing and office supplies like pens, paper, and notebooks.

Can Stationary describe an unchanged situation?

Yes, it can describe something not progressing or changing.

Are envelopes considered stationery?

Yes, envelopes are a type of stationery.

Is a "stationary bike" a type of writing tool?

No, it's an exercise equipment that remains fixed in place.

Does Stationary have a noun form?

No, Stationary is primarily an adjective.

Are Stationary and Stationery interchangeable?

No, Stationary means not moving, and Stationery refers to writing supplies.

Are printers a part of stationery?

Generally, stationery refers to consumable office supplies, but printers can be part of a broader definition.

Can a person be described as stationary?

Yes, if they are not moving or standing still.

Can one say "stationery bike"?

No, the correct term is "stationary bike."

Are pens and pencils stationery items?

Yes, both are common stationery items.

Can a situation or condition be described as stationary?

Yes, it means the situation or condition isn't changing.

Do all offices require stationery?

Most offices use some form of stationery, but the specifics vary.

Is Stationery related to stationary in origin?

Their etymologies are related but have diverged in meaning over time.

Are clipboards considered stationery?

Yes, clipboards are a type of stationery.

Can stationary refer to a stagnant economy?

Yes, it can describe an economy that's not growing or shrinking.

Can you describe a train at rest as stationary?

Yes, a train at rest is stationary.
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
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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