Make Your Editor Cry: Expedient vs. Expeditious

Make Your Editor Cry: Expedient vs. Expeditious

The adjective expedient describes something that provides an easy way to achieve a goal or result, but it’s not necessarily a moral solution. Expedient describes a politically advantageous choice. Expedient also describes something that’s good for you or something that’s useful. It dates back to the 1400s and has its roots in Old French expedient and Latin expedientem.

Anything expeditious is speedy and efficient. People like shortcuts because they are expeditious. The word expeditious means speedy or prompt. Expeditious entered English in the late 1400s via expedition, which also has roots in Old French and Latin. If you want to speed things up, use expeditious.

Although expedient and expeditious come from the same Latin root word for “to make ready or to prompt,” they parted ways by the 1600s, when expedient became self-serving. Use expedient for “advantageous” and expeditious for “speedy,” like how fast you plan for an expedition to Antarctica, or across the street.

Something expedient gives you a boost. If you vote your friend in for city council just because you know he’ll do you a favor in return—that’s an expedient choice. But expeditious is speedy, like your expeditious exit from the voting booth because you know you didn’t do the right thing. You did the expedient thing.

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