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I've always used the word (spelling) homogenous to describe things of similar nature. However, when I started university I heard everyone use the word homogeneous (pronounced "homo genius" or "homo jean us").

This article suggests that homogenous has evolved from having a specific meaning in biology (having a similar structure due to common ancestry) to becoming the most common spelling of the word, and that only "careful writers" try to keep these two spellings separate.

However, The Oxford Guide to English Usage says that homogenous is a "frequent error for homogeneous", and my browser agrees, declaring every instance of homogenous in this question a spelling error.

In my own opinion, homogeneous sounds pretty strange because of the stress on "genius" despite having nothing to do with intelligence.

What is the current status on these two words? What is their relationship, and what is correct usage?

  • can you compare the definitions of these two from a dictionary and then ask us what the problem is? – Mitch Nov 20 '15 at 15:04
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    The full (subscription-only) OED lists both words - the less common homogenous being a completely different word with etymology homo- comb. form + Greek γένος race + -ous suffix, and having two possible meanings equivalent to homogenetic (biology) and homoplastic (surgery). For the more common homogeneous the etymology is given as Scholastic Latin homogeneus (see homogeneal adj. and n.) + -ous suffix, but in regard to pronunciation they say The spelling homogenous is less common than the pronunciation /həˈmɒdʒɪnəs/ for that word. – FumbleFingers Nov 20 '15 at 15:07
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Personally, I've always used "homogeneous" (the pronunciation of which sounds strange to you.) Homogenous is an option, but several sources find its use problematic (including the guide you mentioned.)

Homogeneous:

  1. Of the same or similar nature or kind
  2. Uniform in structure or composition throughout

(AHD)

A usage note from the same source:

The contested variant of homogeneous that is spelled and pronounced homogenous (without the second e) is common but remains stigmatized. In our 2014 survey, 57 percent of the Usage Panel found the sentence Most colleges and universities strive to prevent a homogenous student body by encouraging diversity to be unacceptable.

You can also take a look at this Ngram for a frequency comparison of "homogenous" vs "homogeneous".

protected by tchrist Jul 25 '16 at 6:33

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