English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I can't seem to find a good explanation of what the differences are between the words location and locality. Are they interchangeable, or are there certain contexts in which one or the other must be used?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Gnawme, kiamlaluno, Hugo, jwpat7 Feb 16 '12 at 6:00

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I'd have thought any dictionary would make this clear. The location of something means exactly where it is, whereas the locality means the general region around where it is. – FumbleFingers Feb 11 '12 at 19:47
I think that e.g. in the sense of computer science terms like "locality of reference", locality also has a meaning like "property of remaining localized", i.e. unmoving. – Karl Knechtel Feb 11 '12 at 21:31
@KarlKnechtel Actually, "locality" and "localized" in that context don't mean "unmoving" but "within a specific region". For example, "locality of reference" means many references in a small region. – David Schwartz Feb 12 '12 at 8:57

It's all about knowing that location refers to a specific position on the map (the degree of certainty of the location can vary enormously depending on the context, from a specific coordinate in the map (What's your location? 38° 41' 7.8351", longitude: -96° 30' 14.0625")) to an entire continent What's your location? Europe) while locality will almost always refer to a specific town, village or area.

In general terms location is to position as locality is to village/town/area.

They are usually not interchangeable but since location is more general than locality, locality could be replaced by location in the right context.

Besides, since localities refer to predefined areas, they usually have names.

What is your (current) location?
My (current) location is latitude: 38° 41' 7.8351", longitude: -96° 30' 14.0625".

There is no need to be so specific, you could also say:

I'm near the river.

I'm almost there.



Regarding locality:

On what village/locality are you in?
I'm in Springfield.

If it was common for the operator to travel from village to village in a short period of time, village/locality would turn redundant and location could also be used.

What's your location?

share|improve this answer

Location indicates the exact location, a position of something and locality indicates a small area of a country, city etc.

share|improve this answer

Location is a place - a particular place, especially in relation to other areas - where something exists or happens.

His apartment is in a really good location

A locality denotes the fact or condition of having a location in space or time.

... weather reports from several different localities

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.