What's the difference between "incarnation" and "embodiment"? I didn't get a clear distinction from Webster. Is it like "incarnation" is more about a state and "embodiment" is more about an action? Or is it like "incarnation" is more about a living being and "embodiment" is more about an idea or a notion?

  • No difference except in the case of divine beings taking human form. Please don't make me document that. (I mean the usage, not the transformation.)
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 5:35
  • I believe incarnation implies another form of existence prior to the transformation. Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 6:39
  • Etymology. Embodiment vs. incarnation. Commented May 26, 2020 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


Incarnation is all about the previous state and a transformation after its life. If you say "This dog must be a rabbit incarnate", you are saying that the dog has a lot of rabbit like qualities. This may be physical (like ears), or the fact that they like to hop around. This also implies that the animal/person lived another life. You would always be an incarnate of a living thing.

Embodiment is to embrace or display a trait. You may say "This dog is the embodiment of joy". You can embody a lot of things, unlike incarnation, these can be non-living things. While they can mean roughly the same thing, there is some nuances in usage as well as meaning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.