What is the difference between conventional and traditional?


My grandfather used to live a conventional/traditional life.

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    Did you compare dictionary definitions? Why do you think you might confuse the two? – FumbleFingers Apr 28 '14 at 20:35

Conventional: refers to what is generally expected by people based on what is common, at a specific time, in a specific culture.

Traditional: refers to customs and usages that have been handed down from past generations to present time.

For example, if you were getting married, a "traditional" wedding dress based on someone's culture might red, but in the U.S., a "conventional" dress is floor-length and white.

Also, families can have traditions. In a conventional Thankgiving dinner in the U.S., you have turkey, cranberry sause, stuffing, mashed potatoes.

Your grandfather may have lived both a traditional and a conventional life!!


Practically speaking, traditional means "adhering to customs that are respected because they are time-honored or integral to a certain culture or history". Conventional is closer to meaning "adhering to old or accepted customs".

The difference lies in that conventional can have different meanings based on context, and some of them are negative, lending conventional more of a negative shade than traditional.

Conventional can also mean "non-progressive", "boring", "conformist", "unimaginative", depending on where it is used. For example, conventional methods is neutral, just meaning "usual methods", but conventional thinking is more negative, meaning "unimaginative/non-progressive thinking".

In the example sentence you provided, the more likely correct word would be traditional, as in that context it means "living according to time-honored ways".