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What's the difference between diary and journal? They seem like they could mean the same thing, but I'm probably wrong.

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A diary is almost always written from a personal perspective. The word journal has other meanings, but one of its definitions is a synonym for diary. But this is basic dictionary stuff... –  J.R. Jun 10 '12 at 2:22
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They're largely synonymous, though diary sometimes implies something more personal and/or private. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jun 10 '12 at 2:22
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3 Answers

Diary and Journal are synonyms, but there is an important difference:

A diary is strictly a record of personal and daily experiences. Journal could mean a more general record or logbook but more importantly a technical journal, that is a scientific or industry-related publication/periodical.

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=journal

Summary: Diary and Journal have the same specific meaning, but journal can have other meanings also.

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I don't know where I heard this (and I even searched google for the source), but I hear people saying, "Girls keep diaries, boys keep journals." I think they both mean the same thing, but you normally wouldn't hear a boy say, "I'm going to write in my diary." They're more likely to say, "I keep a journal."

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...Reminds me of this cartoon –  J.R. Jun 10 '12 at 9:52
    
I remember reading this in the Henry Reed (children's) series by Keith Robertson. A diary is more of a day-to-day writing, a journal is more topical. –  Tom Au Nov 9 '12 at 2:05
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I kept (summer) diaries and journals a teenager. One summer, I wrote "diary" about random events taking place every few days. A couple summers later, I wrote in journal form, "A Summer's Travels," covering only those portions of my summer that was spent traveling in Europe and Appalachia. The journal was more "topical."

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