When we say this approach is "New," new, here, doesn't necessarily imply that the approach is different from preceding approaches.

When we say that it is "different," different, here, doesn't imply that it is new.

So is there an adjective or a word that could denote both meanings?

Here is the context:

to unravel .......... reasons and motivations.

  • 2
    While I'd certainly consider using novel here (or several of the other answers), I think "a new approach" definitely does imply that it is different from preceding approaches. – Gob Ties Apr 9 '15 at 14:58
  • I agree with Geobits for the particular example in this question: instances of thought such as reasons and motivations are inherently unique if they are new. – talrnu Apr 9 '15 at 16:00
  • I think "new" would perfectly do in this context. A new car is not necessarily different from another new car, but new ideas, reasons, or motivations must be different to justify calling them "new", save the predominant meaning would be a new effort or attempt. – Martin Schwehla Apr 11 '15 at 9:30
  • Agree with all the preceding comments. While new doesn't always mean different, it's likely to imply it in the context you're using. – Barmar Apr 14 '15 at 0:25

13 Answers 13


novel - of a new kind; different from anything seen or known before (dictionary.com)

  • From wiktionary : first definition : 1.(obsolete) A novelty; something new.. This may not be the actual meaning of the word. Furthermore, I don't have the same definition as you – Yohann V. Apr 10 '15 at 9:38
  • @Yohann: You're looking at the noun definition in dictionary.com - which, although they list it first, didn't exist in English until a couple of centuries after the adjectival form. Your Wikionary definition is lifted from subscriber-only OED, where it's pointed out that the now-obsolete early noun usages (a new thing, new information) were normally plural (as the news continues to be used today). – FumbleFingers Apr 10 '15 at 11:44
  • My bad, I saw it but I was thinking my comment was deleted because I just did an error manipulation. It was not and I am sorry for this useless comment. – Yohann V. Apr 10 '15 at 11:54



1.0 (Of a product, idea, etc.) featuring new methods; advanced and original:

1.1 (Of a person) introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking:
ODO Emphasis mine

  • 1
    Not all things that are novel are innovative! (Innovative implies that somebody thought it up or created it - but sometimes things that are new and different are merely found!) – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 9 '15 at 15:30
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz Indeed, and it also usually connotes a thing or idea that is better than older ones in some way, while novel does not. – bcrist Apr 11 '15 at 18:09


  • new; not previously known, met with, etc.
  • This was my first thought as well, though it does depend strongly on context. It might mean neither "new" nor "unique", e.g. as in fresh clothes. But a fresh idea is both new and unique. – talrnu Apr 9 '15 at 15:57

unprecedented- not done or known before.



  • showing a marked departure from previous practice; new: a truly original approach. (AHD)

  • productive of new things or new ideas; inventive. (AHD)

The Free Dictionary

  • 4
    But in contexts like an original edition it might very specifically mean the earliest, rather than the latest. – FumbleFingers Apr 9 '15 at 0:51
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - sure, but that is not the meaning I suggest, as you can see from my answer!! An original approach, for instance, is a new and different approach. – user66974 Apr 9 '15 at 4:57

While you asked for a single word, the phrase I immediately think of is often used together enough that it can even be hyphenated to perfectly fit the bill (assuming you have no aversion to hyphenation—some people do though).

“Never before seen”. It needs no definition as far as I am concerned since it is self explanatory. However, it does carry a stronger implication that it isn't just new or different, but rather so much so that there has never been anything like it before.

Of course, it has been used to such hyperbole, that stronger connotation I warned about may very well be just a historical footnote at this point.

The end result would be something like this:

To unravel never-before-seen reasons and motivations…

Also note that there are several similar phrases that you can select from, e.g., “as yet unwitnessed.”

  • 1
    "unprecedented" would be one word, but the connotation might be unsuitable. – Ulrich Schwarz Apr 9 '15 at 13:57
  • Could you cite some examples? This is not a common phrase at all in my experience. Never seen before (no hyphens) is common but not the one you cite. – terdon Apr 9 '15 at 14:10
  • @terdon, I'm afraid I don't know what source I can cite; given that the phrase is so self-explanatory and that most dictionaries I've found do not include phrases-turned-hyphenated-terms, I haven't found any place that defines it explicitly. However, from a cursory google-search, I find many results (I know that isn't a source for a definition, but it is a source for finding its use—albeit a little less scientific than google ngram, though ngram only searches Google Books iirc). – HalosGhost Apr 9 '15 at 17:12
  • Yes, but Google Books is huge, it is a decent corpus. I can find examples, you're right, but it still looks horribly ugly to my eye. – terdon Apr 9 '15 at 17:24
  • @terdon, haha, fair enough. I never said it was pretty (I even mentioned that many people have aversions to such hyphenated phrases). I won't blame you for downvoting if you feel it is not a good answer—that's what the button is there for afterall. – HalosGhost Apr 9 '15 at 17:35

Along with the aforementioned "novel" and "innovative" you could also use


  • Yes, simultaneously implying that it's both new and different. – martineau Apr 11 '15 at 10:24


radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.:

You should be careful using it, obviously, due to possible unwanted connotations the word may imply. It works in your context, but who is doing the unraveling you mention (and what kind of reasons/motivations exist) will affect whether to use revolutionary over, say, innovative (which is mentioned above).


Depending on context, I like the words "fresh" or "novel" for this sort of thing.

I deliberately avoid anything that starts with re- because, well, that's clearly not indicating something that is new if it is "re-anything".


First of all, in English, the word 'new' does mean different and you can use it without hesitation for both. In programming, to define a new object different from others, they use new Object()

When a baby is born, they say 'new baby'. When they say 'new approach' they imply both new and different.

Other synonyms of 'new' meaning 'new and different' are

  • innovative
  • advanced
  • experimental

But you should mind the word combinations like 'innovative approach', 'advanced technology'.

Following Pureferret's comment, if we refer to programming, and need a single new and different something, we use 'unique' like 'unique key' in database.

So, at the time something new singular and different appears you can call it 'unique'

  • I'd say that using new Object() twice would (in most cases) create the same object though, not different ones. – Pureferret Apr 10 '15 at 9:19
  • Yes, right, you get two new objects that are different from the others. But if you need one new (and different) object, you still use 'new Object()' – alx Apr 10 '15 at 9:27

As a psychologist, I immediately doubted there was a context where you could actually be talking about motivations that are truly new, per se. Perhaps instead the motivations are typical ones, where the newness and difference relates to the local specific context. This led me to wonder whether what you're actually looking for is untapped, if you are looking to draw on them or exploit them (e.g. in marketing or sales) or unexplored if you are just looking to understand them.


I would use the word "unexamined" in that sentence because anything that was already examined cannot be, by definition, neither new nor different.


re-imagined - captures a good nuance

protected by Matt E. Эллен Apr 13 '15 at 10:51

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