I don't have a clear idea on the ways these two similar-sounding words differ. The dictionary definitions aren't that helpful in this regard.

I read once in some spiritual book that it is written in the Bible: "Man has complete dominion over nature and other creations of God..." or something along those lines, and that 'dominion' means stewardship. At first, I thought "dominion" was the noun form of "dominate". Again I googled the term and found that my guess was right. Yet, the book says 'dominion' means stewardship. And supervising something is not quite the same as having a dominance over something, is it?

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  • What does the dictionary tell you? – Drew Nov 2 '17 at 1:28

The words have very similar meanings and derivations, but they're not exactly the same.

Dominion, as mentioned in the question, is often associated with religious texts. It also has a slightly archaic feel. It appears 56 times in the KJV Bible, for example, while domination doesn't appear at all. Similarly, a Google Ngram search shows domination becoming more frequent, while dominion falls out of use.

Dominion does not necessarily imply a state that is contingent, or actively enforced. For example, God might have eternal, necessary, and unchanging dominion over creation, or a medieval king might have claimed dominion over his subjects by divine right. You wouldn't use domination in that sense.

Domination is much more clearly associated with the transitive verb 'to dominate'. It implies a deliberate and forceful act, or a condition that requires 'work' or 'struggle' to maintain.

In modern usage, domination is an activity, while dominion is an attribute. In older usage, dominion was used in both of those ways.

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