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Symmetry vs. Asymmetry: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 18, 2023
Symmetry is balanced and proportional similarity; asymmetry is the absence or violation of this balance.

Key Differences

Symmetry refers to a balanced, often mirror-like arrangement in which the parts of an object or design are proportionally arranged. This concept can be found in various contexts, including nature, architecture, and art. Symmetry often conveys a sense of harmony and balance. In contrast, asymmetry represents a lack of such balance. Asymmetrical designs or patterns do not have mirror-like or proportional parts. This can create a sense of dynamism or visual interest.
In mathematics, symmetry is a precise concept, where an object is symmetrical if it looks the same after a certain transformation, like reflection or rotation. In everyday life, symmetry often suggests aesthetic appeal and order. Asymmetry, on the other hand, can imply uniqueness or breaking from tradition. It's used in art and design to create focal points and draw attention to specific areas.
When it comes to biology, symmetry plays a significant role in the structure of living organisms. Many animals and plants exhibit symmetrical forms, like bilateral or radial symmetry. Asymmetry in biology, while less common, can also occur naturally and is sometimes a result of environmental factors or genetic mutations.
In terms of human perception, symmetry is often associated with beauty and attractiveness. For example, symmetrical faces are typically considered more aesthetically pleasing. Asymmetry, however, can provide a sense of realism and naturalness, as perfect symmetry is rare in the natural world.
In design and architecture, symmetry is often used to convey formality and balance. Classical architecture, for instance, frequently utilizes symmetrical designs. Asymmetry, however, is often employed in modern and abstract art and architecture to convey movement, tension, or progressive ideas.

Comparison Chart


Balanced and proportional
Lacking balance and proportion

Visual Effect

Conveys harmony and order
Creates dynamism and interest


More common in nature
Less common, but can be impactful


Often linked to beauty
Can imply uniqueness or realism

Use in Design

Used for formality and balance
Employed for tension and movement

Symmetry and Asymmetry Definitions


Balanced proportions on opposite sides.
The butterfly’s wings exhibit perfect symmetry.


Unconventional arrangement in design.
The asymmetry in the layout adds visual intrigue.


Mirror-like similarity in parts.
The symmetry of the building’s facade is striking.


Lack of balanced proportions.
The asymmetry of the sculpture makes it interesting.


Harmonious arrangement in design.
The garden’s symmetry creates a peaceful ambiance.


Unequal distribution around a point.
The leaf’s asymmetry is due to genetic mutation.


Equal distribution around a central point.
The snowflake's radial symmetry is fascinating.


Absence of mirror-like similarity.
His face has a charming asymmetry.


Consistency in form and arrangement.
Her painting is known for its symmetry.


Inconsistency in form and arrangement.
The asymmetry of the pattern is intentionally artistic.


The correspondence of the form and arrangement of elements or parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane or about a center or an axis:the symmetry of a butterfly's wings.


Having no balance or symmetry
An asymmetric design.


A relationship in which there is correspondence or similarity between entities or parts:the symmetry of the play, which opens and ends with a speech by a female character.


Uneven in distribution.


Beauty as a result of pleasing proportions or harmonious arrangement:"Here were the ringlets, framing a face of exquisite symmetry"(Clive Barker).


Existing or occurring between two incommensurate entities, especially to the detriment of one.


(Physics)Invariance under transformation. For example, a system that is invariant under rotation has rotational symmetry.


Characterized by an imbalance in power between two opponents in an armed conflict, especially one in which a weaker force uses unconventional means, such as guerilla or terrorist tactics
Asymmetric warfare.


Exact correspondence on either side of a dividing line, plane, center or axis.


(Chemistry) Of or relating to a carbon atom having four different atoms or structural groups attached to it, resulting in an unbalanced spatial arrangement of atoms in a molecule, so that the molecule cannot be superimposed on its mirror image; chiral.


The satisfying arrangement of a balanced distribution of the elements of a whole.


Absence of symmetry or proportion between the parts of a thing, or a distinction that produces such a lack of symmetry.


A due proportion of the several parts of a body to each other; adaptation of the form or dimensions of the several parts of a thing to each other; the union and conformity of the members of a work to the whole.


The lack of a common measure between two objects or quantities; incommensurability.


The law of likeness; similarity of structure; regularity in form and arrangement; orderly and similar distribution of parts, such that an animal may be divided into parts which are structurally symmetrical.


Want of symmetry, or proportion between the parts of a thing, esp. lack of bilateral symmetry.


Equality in the number of parts of the successive circles in a flower.




(mathematics) an attribute of a shape or relation; exact correspondence of form on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane


(mathematics) a lack of symmetry


Balance among the parts of something


(physics) the property of being isotropic; having the same value when measured in different directions


Where is symmetry commonly found?

In nature, architecture, art, and mathematics.

What is bilateral symmetry?

Bilateral symmetry is when two halves of an object are mirror images.

Can asymmetry be planned?

Absolutely, especially in design and art.

Can asymmetry be intentional?

Yes, it’s often used intentionally in art and design.

What is symmetry?

Symmetry is balanced and proportional similarity in parts.

Can asymmetry be functional?

Yes, especially in cases where balance isn’t required or desired.

How is symmetry used in architecture?

Often to create a sense of order and balance.

Is symmetry more common than asymmetry?

In nature and traditional designs, yes.

Is symmetry always aesthetically pleasing?

Generally, yes, but it depends on context and personal preference.

Can asymmetry be attractive?

Yes, it can add uniqueness and interest.

Does symmetry imply equality?

In form and arrangement, yes, but not necessarily in function.

Can asymmetry be symmetrical?

In a broader sense, yes, if it’s balanced in its own way.

What is asymmetry?

Asymmetry is the lack of such balanced and proportional similarity.

Is asymmetry common in nature?

It’s less common than symmetry but does occur.

What does asymmetry convey in art?

It can convey movement, tension, or a break from tradition.

Are human faces symmetrical?

Not perfectly, but general symmetry is common.

Do all cultures value symmetry?

While many do, aesthetic values can vary culturally.

Can asymmetry be seen in literature?

Yes, in unconventional plot structures or character development.

Is symmetry important in mathematics?

Yes, it’s a fundamental concept in geometry and other areas.

How does symmetry affect perception?

It’s often associated with beauty, balance, and harmony.
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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