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In English, we use the phrase "sheer force" much more often than "pure force" (Google Ngram). And willpower.

What is the difference, in meaning and usage, between the two (and is there a reason for such a discrepancy in usage)?

For instance:

  • Both "sheer force" and "pure force" are grammatical in the following:

    • He overcame his addiction through pure force of will
    • He overcame his addiction through sheer force of will
  • Both "sheer willpower" and "pure willpower" are grammatical in the following:

    • He overcame his addiction through sheer willpower
    • He overcame his addiction through pure willpower
  • You could also use either in:

    • He overcame his addiction through sheer force of habit
    • He overcame his addiction through pure force of habit
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I believe they're synonyms in this context. –  Elliott Frisch May 12 at 13:33
    
I guess I'm also wondering if there might be a reason for the huge discrepancy in usage. I'll update. –  jimsug May 12 at 13:37
1  
You're broadening your question enormously, then. Elliott answers for your first usage. Pooja's link, and the further links, address the broader issue of where the words' senses overlap. –  Edwin Ashworth May 12 at 13:57
    
Pure does not fit the OP's context at all. The words are synonyms, their contextual usage is not alike. He overcame his addiction through sheer force of will. -- not pure. If at all, He overcame his addiction purely through (the) force of will. –  Kris May 12 at 14:44

1 Answer 1

They are synonyms whereas there is a thin line of difference explained here-->http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2571718

enter image description here

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I don't find this argument sufficient for the OP's context. –  Kris May 12 at 14:47

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