What is the difference between the words aggregate and total?

Please give examples where one word might be preferred to the other.

In economics for example, there are terms like aggregate demand, aggregate supply, aggregate income, aggregate output.

It seems that the word total would have worked just as well for each of these terms, but somehow aggregate is preferred (possibly for the sole reason that it sounds more sophisticated?).

closed as off-topic by Kris, Jason Bassford, Davo, Rory Alsop, Phil Sweet Jan 21 at 17:22

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  • I think, 'aggregate' means "cluster/collection of", eg "A human being is an aggregate of many cells.". And 'total' means "all there are", eg "Our total debts amount to ten thousand dollars.". – Zeeshan Ali Jan 21 at 7:09
  • Besides what I think, I looked up the word 'aggregate' in cambridge English Dictionary (dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/aggregate) and found that one of its meaning is 'total', so that I don't see any difference. However, people might prefer one over the other in different contexts for some reason. I'd love to know if there was any difference. ^^ – Zeeshan Ali Jan 21 at 7:31
  • Also, exam questions may be off topic on ELU. – Kris Jan 21 at 8:17
  • These are each defined and have a formula. Try investopedia and Wikipedia. Aggregate income and aggregate output reflect the situation where the aggregate demand and aggregate supply curves intersect. Voting to close since these terms are simple to Google. – Phil Sweet Jan 21 at 17:22

It seems to me that 'aggregate' puts emphasis on the fact that the total of whatever is being referred to is composed of many parts. While a 'total' could have many different parts, its not really implied by the word itself because it can be used in other ways besides just in reference to quantity.

My total respect. The total eclipse. My total dedication to my field.

In these instances total means 'full' but not really in the way that 'aggregate' means 'full'. It makes sense that they would use 'aggregate' a lot in economics because it is typically always dealing with questions of quantity.

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