The difference between a paper diary and a paper calendar is fairly clear, though either may be used to record an appointmemt. However a computer application is less clear as, for example, MS Outlook's self-styled calendar is really a diary.

Or is it? Guidance, please!

  • 1
    In the US, I've used an appointment book to track appointments, which has calendar-like pages, and a diary to keep my personal thoughts on a daily basis (now also known as a journal). We call Outlook a calendar, albeit one where you can enter and track appointments. Commented May 8, 2013 at 11:12
  • In Taiwan, we call that appointment book thingy a "diary" in English. In Japanese (nikki) and Chinese (Rìjì), the characters for diary are 日記, literally "day record/remember".
    – user21497
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 11:36
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    @Richard Can you add some context to your question, and show us what research you have done so far? What definition of "diary" led you to believe that Outlook calendar is actually a diary?
    – Carolyn
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 20:01
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    @Carolyn It's common British usage to call an appointment book a diary. If/when we call an appointment book a calendar, it's because we've adopted the usage from US-based computer programs! (See Coin's answer.)
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


In British English, a diary is normally a book where you note down appointments and events on particular dates. A calendar is usually hung on the wall, or placed on a desk, and may or may not be used to write appointment on. Diary also means a personal journal.

I understand (and Kristina Lopez confirms) that in the US only the latter is called a diary, and calendar covers the first two meanings.

The calendar in Microsoft, Google etc systems partakes of the nature of both a calendar (UK) and a diary (UK).

  • Thankyou, as it confirms my "description"... But its a fuzzy area with wall calendar and appointments... Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 22:29

Diary (in US usage) is a personal journal or written account of events, for an appointment book we'd most likely use 'planner' as in, "Let me make note of the date in my planner." Day planner was common in the 90s, not so much now. There's also datebook, appointment book and as you said, calendar.

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