What is Stationary? | Definition, Uses, Advantages and Disadvantages

The notion of stationary is both abstract and concrete, scientific and philosophical. The word refers to a state of motionlessness or immobility, which has various implications in different fields of studies. In physics this term has been used to define the laws of motion, whereas the field of economics has borrowed this term to study business cycles.

In general, the word refers to a state of being in which all motions (both advancement and regression) and changes are halted. This may be naturally achieved or brought about artificially. In regular conversation this word is used in different ways.

With reference to inanimate objects this word is used frequently because it is their essential state of being. When used in case of human beings this word is usually used in a deeper sense. A stationary stage in life may refer to a vacuum like state of existence in which there are no emotional or psychological developments.

Uses of the term

  1. In physics the term has been used to denote a period in which all conditions are unchanging and constant. This term has been used in reference to the volume of black holes and solutions to the Schrodinger equation, among numerous others.
  2. It has been used in the field of economics to refer to certain points on the business cycle or explain the complexities of cardinal and marginal utility.
  3. In geography and geological studies the word has been used in reference to tectonic plates and shifts thereof.
  4. In chemistry the study of molecules often employs this term to differentiate between the apparent state of rest and the movement within. This has also been used to define wave and light particles in a similar context.
  5. It is also taken to refer to a stationary armature-rotating field alternator, a high voltage machine (in the field of electrical engineering).
  6. In the lexicon of everyday language, the word is often used to imply a state of rest or constancy.

Advantages of using the term

  1. In scientific areas or studies, the word has a very specific meaning in that context which has now formed a part of the overall discourse.
  2. In the humanities it can be taken to mean something specific or abstract, depending upon the circumstances in which it is used.
  3. The existence of this word has made it possible to define certain essential characteristics of manmade or natural objects, or living beings such as plants.

Disadvantages of using the term

  1. The word is very commonly mistaken by people for its homonym – stationery, which has completely different usage and meaning. Stationery refers to material objects such as school and office supplies.
  2. In its abstract sense, the word can be taken to mean a vast variety of things which are not made completely clear. When used in a concrete context rooted in reality, it may cause confusions.
  3. This is because the word refers to both a physical state of being and a psychological condition. In certain situations it may be difficult to differentiate between the two implications according to the context.


  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/1005.1116
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1907722?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
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