Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

When it comes to homophones-words with a similar pronunciation but different meanings- stationary and stationery are the most confused.

At a glance, Stationary and Stationery look nearly alike so, confusing them might be so easy for those not keen with their grammar. Notably, with just a letter different and a similar pronunciation for stationary and stationery, the two words are entirely different.

Stationary vs Stationery

The main difference between Stationary and Stationery is that Stationary refers to a person or object that is constant at its position. While stationery refers to the materials used for office and school. Stationary stands as an adjective, but stationery stands as a noun in the part of speech.

Stationary vs Stationery

Stationary – The vehicles were ‘stationary’, which caused a traffic jam.
Stationery – He ordered him to bring the office ‘stationery’ from the shop.

Comparison Table Between Stationary and Stationery

Parameter of ComparisonStationaryStationery
MeaningFixed, immobile, stillWriting material and all office supplies
OriginDerived from Latin word stationarius.Developed from the stationary characteristic of middle age booksellers, that is, stationers.
Part of SpeechMostly used an adjectiveMostly used a noun
PurposeDescribing an object or person who is not movingThe collection of all writing materials and office supplies
Synonyms and AntonymsHave several synonyms and antonymsLack an antonym and a synonym that collectively define all writing materials and office supplies

What is Stationary?

Stationary is a word that means still or not in motion. Stationary is used to describe the idea of being stable or lack of movement. Additionally, stationary is used in Astronomy to refer to a planet that has no distinct motion or longitude.  It can be used as an adjective and an adverb.

Example of the use of stationary as an adjective

• Tom and Mary waited in a stationary position for the school bus to arrive.

Example of the use of stationary as an adverb

• Tom and Mary had to wait stationary for the school bus to arrive.

However, in most cases, stationary is used as an adjective.


What is Stationery?

On the other hand, stationery is a word that collectively means writing materials and other office materials. Common stationery includes writing papers, writing pads, envelops, pens, stapler, paper punches, to name a few.

In most cases, the word stationery is used as a concrete noun. However, in some cases, the word stationery can be used as an adjective.

Example of the word stationery as a noun

• The office messenger was sent to get stationary from the bookshop.

Example of the word stationery as an adjective

• The secretary is in John’s office is in charge of servicing the stationary cupboard.


Main Differences Between Stationary and Stationery

With these tips on the differences between the two words, you can avoid errors in grammar while using either of the two words.

Also, learning about the differences between the two words will expand your knowledge of the two words. The following are the main differences between the words stationary and stationery.


The word stationary is a descriptive term used to describe a person or an object that is still or not in motion. On the other hand, the word stationery is a collective term used for all office writing materials and other office supplies.

Understanding the meaning of each of the word, you can theoretically conclude that the two names differ in whatever context they are used, and also how they are used.


Notably, the word stationary is derived from the Medieval Latin word stationarius. In Latin, the word stationarius means motionless. Surprisingly, the meaning and root of the Latin name have not changed even after being developed into an English word.

Therefore, the English name ‘stationary’ and the Latin word stationarius are equivalent in meaning with both of the words describing a motionless object or person.

On the other hand, the word stationery has a different story of origin. Middle Ages had people obtain their goods from traveling peddlers.

However, booksellers and paper product sellers were different, having them sell their products from a storefront. Defined by the stationary nature of their location, booksellers and paper product sellers were known to be ‘stationers,’ hence the name stationery for the items they sold.

Part of Speech

In most cases, the name stationary is identified in phrases as an adjective. On the other hand, the word stationery, in most cases, is identified as a concrete noun. However, there are rare cases when the word stationary is used as an adverb and stationery used as an adjective.

The examples earlier discussed while defining the two words can help you understand the use of the names in different forms.


Stationary is used as a descriptive word for a person, or object that is still or not moving. Additionally, the name stationary is used in astronomy to refer to planets that show no apparent movement.

On the other hand, the word stationery is a concrete noun that is adopted as a collective term for all writing materials and office supplies.

Synonyms and Antonyms

The name stationary has several synonyms that make it so different from its homophone, stationery, and several antonyms. Some synonyms for stationary include, immobile, still, constant, and motionless.

On the other hand, the antonyms to the word stationary include mutable, mobile, variable, and changing. Notably, the antonyms are just the opposite of the earlier stated synonyms.

The word stationery, on the other hand, is a synonym for the whole collection of the writing materials, and office supplies. Also, the name lacks any antonym, unlike stationary that has several antonyms.

Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Stationary and Stationery

What is stationary store?

A stationary store is a store that cannot move and remains in one place. All the shops, hotels, restaurants and malls can be considered stationary stores.
Stores like hot dog trucks and ice cream trucks cannot be considered stationary stores.

What are the office stationery items?

Stationery items are commercially manufactured writing materials that are used in school, colleges, and offices and helps with projects or other similar work.
For instance, if you are required to submit a math assignment, you will have to use different stationery items.
Stationery items include items like pen, pencil, eraser, divider, and compass. All the necessary items that are required to do any practical task at school, college or office are stationery items.
Stationery items contain materials that are required to write and also the materials that are required to be written on by hand. For instance – You need a pen to write and paper is the material on which you will write with your hand.
There are a lot of office stationery items. Offices need stationery items for presentation work and keeping records.
All the files where offices keep records are also stationery items. In-office, you need to submit reports. You use a stapler to staple all those reports together. This stapler is also an office stationery item.
Here is a list of main office stationery items:
Colored markers
Cello tape
Paper clips
White paper sheets
Storage pockets

Are greeting cards considered stationery?

Yes, greeting cards are considered stationery products just like pens, glue, note books, etc. Greeting cards are commercially manufactured and you can write on them.
They fulfill the requirements to pass as a stationery item.

Stationary vs Stationery pronunciation?

Stationary and stationery look alike except for one minor difference in their spellings. There is a difference of one letter ( a and e) between them Both these words have the same pronunciations.
They are pronounced as station’ry. But both of them have quite different meanings.
Stationary is referred to something that is not moving and stay in the same place. Stationery means commercial materials that are used in offices, colleges and schools, etc to write and to be written on.


While the two names are alphabetically closely related with the same pronunciation, they are quite.

The word stationary a descriptive word for immobile people or objects, while the word stationery is a noun used collectively to mean all writing materials and office supplies.

With the key differences between the two words stated clearly, committing grammatical errors while using them would be rare or minimized.


  1. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/stationary
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/stationery
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