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For example: tautologic, tautological, and tautologous.

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closed as general reference by Matt Эллен, MετάEd, TimLymington, kiamlaluno, tchrist Sep 4 '12 at 1:48

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.

    
What has a dictionary told you about the differences? –  Matt Эллен Jun 20 '12 at 11:05
    
@MattЭллен I'm not asking about my example words in particular. They were just examples. –  Dave Jun 20 '12 at 12:10
    
You can look up suffixes in dictionaries. E.g. -logic –  Matt Эллен Jun 20 '12 at 12:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For -ic vs -ical see a Metrolingua entry that basically states that most uses overlap almost entirely, but in some cases there is a distinction, as in economic vs economical, where economical implies thrifty, and economic really just refers to anything relating to economy. I don't know if this applies to any examples of the -ogous suffix.

The article further describes an adjective politic that meands prudent, and historic, which means a significant event in history, not just any event.

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I think those differences relating to economic, politic, historic simply reflect the fact that people have exploited the original synonymy to create useful distinctions. I doubt very much that any correspondingly useful distinction could be made around the word tautological. –  FumbleFingers Jun 19 '12 at 15:11
    
That is the nature of this horrible language, as far as I can tell. People constantly apply connotations to words that are essentially fully synonymous, and some horrible system of evolution takes place that produces such disparity with little explanation. –  shinyspoongod Jun 19 '12 at 15:23
    
I certainly agree that's one of the ways language evolves, but I wouldn't say this process is "horrible". In fact, I think it's both useful (our world changes, so we're always needing new words), and inherently fascinating (how lanuage usage changes over time can give real insights into our history/culture/etc.). Anyway, I think you have to admit ELU is hardly the best place to call English a horrible language (probably few people here are likely to agree with such a comment! :) –  FumbleFingers Jun 19 '12 at 16:01
    
English being useful does not make it good at what it does. Evolution functioning for its purpose does not mean it does so well. People need to differentiate between crude functionality and truly effective functionality, between tolerable, good, and great. As for this being an appropriate place, if I can't criticize the language on its own turf in a Q&A site, then where can I? –  shinyspoongod Jun 19 '12 at 16:06
    
Secondly, reusing old words is not the same as creating new ones. As for as fascination, etymology is as fascinating as the math used in nutrition labels. –  shinyspoongod Jun 19 '12 at 16:09

They're effectively synonyms, but most people use tautological most of the time...

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