Systemic vs. Systematic: Simple Breakdown of the Difference

, Staff Writer
Updated October 26, 2021
Men And Women Protesting Systemic vs Systematic Example
    Men And Women Protesting Systemic vs Systematic Example
    Used under Getty Images license

You have likely heard the words systemic and systematic on the news or read them online, but do you know the difference between the two? While at first glance these words may look similar and are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and uses. Discover the different ways to use and distinguish between systemic and systematic.

Systemic vs. Systematic: Definitions and Differences

While both systemic and systematic can be defined as relating to a system, their uses are different and serve distinct purposes.

  • systemic - something that is part of, relates to or affects a system

  • systematic - the way something is done within a system

Examples of How to Use Systemic

The word systemic can be used in a variety of contexts. The term is defined as something fundamental to a social, economic or political practice. In other words, it is something that happens within a system, affects the system and is an integral part of the system.

  • Systemic corruption allowed the politician to commit crimes without consequence.

  • Wage gaps and incarceration are evidence of systemic racism within society.

  • War-torn countries are faced with systemic violence every day.


Anatomical Meaning of Systemic

Systemic can also refer to the systems of your body: the circulatory system, nervous system, digestive system, etc. Systemic anatomy is an observation of groups of structures that work together to perform bodily functions.

Examples of How to Use Systematic

Systematic is the older of the two words, as well as the more commonly used. Systematic can refer to behavior that is recurring or habitual and appears to be part of the system. Something this is systematic is intentional and according to a plan.

  • The doctor’s systematic treatment of the patient proved effective.

  • Mrs. Smith teaches science in a systematic and thoughtful way.

  • She counted the cash systematically.

How to Remember the Difference Between Systematic and Systemic

Even knowing the definitions of systemic and systematic, the meanings are still very easy to confuse or use interchangeably. By looking at the words side by side, the differences in how they are used can be more clearly understood.

  • The group made a systematic effort to protest systemic injustice.

  • The systematic oppression led to systemic violence.

  • The systemic problems led to systematic results.


Study Words Systematically

Now that you know the difference between systemic and systematic, you can explore other deceptively similar words like infer and imply and desert and desert. If you systematically study these terms, you’ll be able to tell the difference in no time.