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Stationary vs. Stationery—What’s the Difference?

  • Stationary means “fixed,” “immobile,” or “unchanging.”
  • Stationery refers to paper, matching envelopes, and writing implements.

At a glance, stationary and stationery look very much alike. But they couldn’t be further apart in meaning and function. So confusing them—and they’re often confused—is a noticeable mistake.

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What does stationary mean?

When something is fixed, immobile, or not subject to change, we can use the adjective stationary to describe it:

I don’t care much for the stationary bike; I prefer riding a real one.

It stands in the square as a stationary reminder of the march of history.

What does stationery mean?

Stationery refers to the collection of papers, envelopes, and other things you’d use to write letters or cards:

The hotel offered complimentary stationery to guests who wished to write letters.

She wanted to write a letter, but the drawer where she stored her stationery was empty.

Examples

When you go to the gym and hop on the stationary bike you’re literally spinning your wheels.
Forbes

Is there a fate worse than having to host a pirate-themed stationary cruise?
A.V. Club

At the “Left & Write” stationery store you can purchase a variety of unique and stylish cards that cater to the season and the occasion.
The Review

So how has Smiggle, the colourful, kid-friendly stationery retailer founded in Melbourne 13 years ago, turned into a global powerhouse?
NEWS

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