Most dictionaries suggest that inspite and despite are synonymous, but are there any specific instances when their usage is not interchangeable?

  • 5
    Related: is it “despite” or “despite of”? (Scroll down to the second graph.) – RegDwigнt Apr 15 '11 at 6:13
  • @Reg: (+1)Nice post there, but I am still curious if there is any sentence or phrase where inspite cannot be replaced by despite or vice-versa. – check123 Apr 15 '11 at 6:21
  • "Despite" strikes me as a little bit more formal, but I can't think of any contexts in which they are not interchangeable. In older English, you could render "in spite of him" as "in his spite", but that would get you strange looks if you said it now. – Colin Fine Apr 15 '11 at 11:02
  • Related "Despite vs in spite of" – Mari-Lou A Apr 19 '14 at 7:01

I would suggest that inspite — as written in your question — is not in fact a word.

I think you must mean in spite of, which is directly interchangeable with despite.

He went for a walk in spite of the rain.

He went for a walk despite the rain.

I am not aware of any real difference between the two options, though I tend to use despite purely for efficiency of words.

  • 2
    I agree - especially with "in spite" vs "inspite" - see here: wsu.edu/~brians/errors/inspite.html – Mike Goatly Apr 15 '11 at 11:29
  • Thanks for your link, @MikeGoatly; it's brilliantly concise. – Karl Apr 15 '11 at 12:42
  • Ya I have always been confused about space between 'in' and 'spite'. So what you mean to suggest is that in-spite cannot be without an immediate 'of'? – check123 Apr 15 '11 at 12:47
  • That's right. And without your hyphen, too. Three words: 'in spite of'. – Karl Apr 15 '11 at 12:49
  • On another note, spite means "to intentionally annoy, hurt, or upset." Any idea how does it connect to 'in-spite'. – check123 Apr 15 '11 at 12:49

It is true that "inspite" is not a word. The difference between "in spite of" and "despite" is more in connotation than in efficiency:

"In spite of" usually connotes a degree of contempt or rebellion. For example, one could say, "In spite of the supervisor's mandate, Pauline went out for lunch." This suggests that Pauline does not think highly of the supervisor's mandate.

"Despite" is usually more of a neutral contradiction. "Despite the supervisor's mandate, Pauline went out for lunch." This shows that the supervisor has not affected Pauline's plan for lunch either way; she just doesn't care.

These ought not be confused with the infinitive verb "to spite", which is meant as a direct rebellion: "I punched him in the face to spite him."


If you find a pair such as "despite sth" and the variant "in spite of sth" you may assume that the shorter one is in current use and the longer one on the wane. There is no difference between the two, according to Longman DCE.

  • In spite of and despite are in fact more or less equally common. Neither is on the wane. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 19 '14 at 6:59
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I did not check it before, I said it from general observation. But now I checked Ngram viewer and it confirms my view. – rogermue Apr 19 '14 at 7:07

protected by Community Apr 19 '14 at 19:47

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