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What is the difference between "economic" and "economical"?

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see also english.stackexchange.com/q/6581/9368 – GEdgar Apr 2 at 22:15
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Economic and economical can only be synonyms in two senses.

  1. Things relating to the economy. eg. You could speak of economical growth, although economic growth is more common.
  2. Using the minimum amount of effort or resources. eg. You could speak of someone making economical use of their time. Economic would also work in that context.

Otherwise, when you're talking about wealth, financial rewards, or the science of economics, it's always economic. If you mean the sense of thrifty or frugal you would use economical.

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Economic is normally used to describe things of or having to do with economics or the economy.

Economical is more in regards to thriftiness.

However, in more than one source I saw them as definitions of each other.

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Regarding the dictionaries: I think you can take that to mean that the two words have mostly overlapping meanings, but might have some little areas where they differ. – Kosmonaut Jan 21 '11 at 18:04
It's like historic v. historical. – Seth Johnson Jan 21 '11 at 18:56

Something that saves money and cuts your unnecessary expenses is economical, for example: My car is beautiful and really economical, but in the issues of business and finance we use the adjective economic,e.g, we haven't had any economic growth since last year.

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