- For Teachers
I'm trying to learn the difference between accurate and precise which, I assume, is subtle.
The context is : 'For a precise (accurate?) measurement of the room temperature, this thermometer requires waiting 1 minute'.
I hope some dear posters correct me if I'm wrong. My interpretation is, in this case if we use "precise" for measurement, it'll refer to the result (which is a number) and how exact that number will be. And if "accurate" is used, it'll suggest that the action of measuring would be carefully done for a precise result.
They sometimes appear to be used as near-synonyms. The Concise Oxford Dictionary unhelpfully informs us:
accurate [...] 1. careful, precise
precise [...] 1a. accurately expressed
To me, 'accurate' carries an idea of 'correctness' that 'precise' does not, but this may be just a personal view.
A micrometer can give a much more precise measurement than a ruler can. But if the micrometer is badly calibrated, the precise measurement might not be as accurate as ruler's measurement.
This explains it further:
Accuracy and precision - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last edited by Raymott; 16-Dec-2010 at 11:21.
Accuracy is how close you are to hitting the mark. Precision is how repeatable you are.