I heard the word evolutional quite recently and I’d like to know whether this word has the same meaning as evolutionary has. Do they have different connotations?

My gut says that evolutionary is like praise while evolutional is more logical. For example:

  1. This artwork is evolutionary!
  2. The evolutional fact is that predecessors either evolve to become successors or else go extinct.

Furthermore, do we have other examples similar to this one where both words share the same part of speech (both adjectives) yet have different suffixes, such as here ‑ary vs. ‑al?

Edit: I found my answer from @Barmar's comment in the answer below. I misunderstood that evolutionary and revolutionary mean the same thing. This renders my gut feeling useless. But still, do they have any difference at all?

  • What does a dictionary comparison tell you? Jan 20 at 12:34
  • 6
    Evolutional is rare. The iWeb corpus has just 194 instances, against 87 thousand of evolutionary. It is so rare that most people won't have come across it, and will not have developed any semantic connotation for it. My advice it to pretend that it does not exist.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 20 at 12:45
  • I don't know if this website is trustworthy, but Wikidiff says evolutional means 'of or pertaining to evolution' and evolutionary means 'of or relating to evolution'. I don't understand the difference between them. @KillingTime
    – fresnir
    Jan 20 at 12:45
  • @ColinFine Oh. That explains why I couldn't find anything about it except for the one Wikidiff link.
    – fresnir
    Jan 20 at 12:51
  • Is that really supposed to be a single text that uses both words? Or are they two unrelated quotes?
    – Barmar
    Jan 20 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


I personally think that when we use evolutionary, we're talking about progress, for example The changes were evolutionary. But when we say evolutional, it has the nuance of related to the process of evolution, for example Evolutional successor. Notice how if we say evolutionary, the nuance of the sentence immediately changes to, as someone said, something like praise. The difference is subtle, and I know it intuitively, so apologies if the answer wasn't articulate enough haha Also, take this with a grain of salt because I haven't really seen the word evolutional much, so I'm just going with my gut feeling.

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    – Community Bot
    Jan 20 at 14:22
  • 1
    The only dictionary definitions of evolutionary I've come across either relate to the theories (general; special) or to general change that is gradual rather than abrupt. No allusion to praiseworthiness. Jan 20 at 14:29
  • Perhaps some people think an evolutionary new product is more "evolved" (read, "improved") than the somewhat cliched revolutionary new product. Jan 20 at 14:54
  • 3
    @FumbleFingers I suspect the author of the first quote in the question was simply misuising "evolutionary" when they meant "revolutionary". It's not clear why the former would be an exclamation.
    – Barmar
    Jan 20 at 17:49
  • @Barmar Ah. I think I found the answer from you right here. The author in question for both quotes is me. I misunderstood that both 'evolutionary' and 'revolutionary' mean the same thing. Whoops.
    – fresnir
    Jan 20 at 21:27

According to MWD: When used to transform a noun into and adjective, the suffixes:

  • -al: of, relating to, or characterized by
    directional; fictional

  • -ary: of, relating to, or connected with

The distinction is only relevant when there is a desire to emphasize that the adjective describes something that is characterized by and not connected with the noun it modifies.

For example: Evolutional Biology is a subfield of biology that studies the evolutionary processes that produce the diversity of life on Earth.

This seems to be an example where the distinction may properly be discerned. However, it is a restatement of the Wiki description which prefers the use of evolutionary in both places. Moreover, my browser does not recognize evolutional and redirects to search results for evolutionary biology. There is, happily, an entry for evolutional in thefreedictionary which provides links for other mentions in the wild.

Consider also - revolutional/revolutionary:

  • The discovery of penicillin had a revolutional impact on our ability to treat bacterial infections.
  • The American Revolutionary War was a military conflict that lasted from April 1775, to September 1783.

As used above, impact is more precisely described as characterized by revolution, than connected with revolution which is better used to describe the Revolutionary War in the second sentence. Again thefreedictionary has an entry for revolutional, albeit sparse, likewise MWD.

With their prominent placements in both definitions, of and relating to can serve to make the case that the two suffixes are synonymous and other factors better determine which form to use. Not even thefreedictionary has entries for budgetal, directionary, or fictionary. It’s probably something to do with their etymology, but that’s further beyond the scope of this question.

  • I can see a need to differentiate "pertaining to a revolution" from "causing a revolution" - for instance "revolutionary literature" could be literature about the American Revolution, or literature that causes a revolution in artistic expression. But I'm not sure there is a true difference between revolutionary and revolutional based on meaning, or at least not one most people agree on.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 21 at 12:22

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