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The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the following definitions.

  • Indicator - "one that indicates"
  • Indication - "something that serves to indicate"

How are they different? Is saying that an "indicator gives an indication" correct?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Saying that indicator means ‘one that indicates’ sounds as if it refers only to a person. Most of time that isn’t so. To see how well an economy is performing, we look at economic indicators, for example. That apart, an indication is indeed what an indicator provides. Indicator is the means, indication the result.

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They are synonyms but not really.

Indication means sign or signal.

There is no indication of injury.

On the other hand, indicator means measure or the device which measures something. It could also be used for a person.

The test is used as an indicator of performance.

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Indicator is something that indicates (something else) . For e.g.,

  • pH indicator - it indicates the pH level
  • Environmental indicator - it indicates the environmental health

Indication is what you get when you indicate something.

And yes, saying that an indicator gives an indication is correct.

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