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I was wondering if interchange and exchange are equivalent and can be used interchangeably or exchangeably (okay this is an example already)?
What are the differences between their prefixes, inter- and ex-?

It is common for XML to be used in interchanging data over the Internet.

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Interchanging data would be swapping one piece of data for another (changing their positions). It is more specific than exchanging data, which just means that data is going back and forth. You should say "exchange" here.

In general, data is not interchanged, because what you send is a copy. There are situations where interchange might be correct (eg: atomically swapping two memory locations, so what was in A is now in B, and vice versa) but even here "exchange" or "swap" is more common terminology.

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I think @kiamlaluno's sentence is clearer with regard to exchange "Exchange refers to the act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return" – Theta30 Jan 21 '12 at 4:12

Interchange, as verb, means

  • (of two or more people) exchange things with each other
  • (of a thing) be able to be exchanged with another

As noun, interchange means

  • the action of interchanging things, especially information
  • an exchange of words
  • alternation

Exchange refers to the act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return.

The difference beetwen inter- and ex- is that the first prefix means "between, among" and the latter means "out."

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