I have heard both repetitive and repetitious used in everyday speech to describe something that repeats, and I'm wondering what the real difference between the words is. Does one have a different connotation than the other? Do they describe different things?

  • Is the varying use of these words regional or variable by social class or group?
    – user198742
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


I would say repetitious is a more 'broad-reaching' term.

A relatively small amount of repetition concentrated in a single context can be repetitive.

If something repeats itself enough to say that it does so characteristically in various contexts, it becomes repetitious (repetitive repetition, if you will).

Having said that, I don't much like repetitious. I think it's a nerdy word.

  • 3
    You keep saying that.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 1:59
  • I recently used the word "repetitious" in a rejection letter for a submitted article which was indeed CHARACTERIZED by incessant repetition. As I proofread the letter something inside me told me that "repetitive" might be a more commonly used form, but something else inside me said that in this situation "repetitious" just seemed more appropriate. Haven't checked other resources but was happy to see that at least someone else out there shares my intuition on these shades of connotation.
    – user90701
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 6:11

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