Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Example and Sample

Example vs Sample

At first glance, “example” and “sample” convey the same meaning, but there are slight yet important differences between the two concepts.

Both “example” and “sample” imply a part and also act like representatives of a whole.

An example, by definition, is a noun that shows and mirrors other things. Both things are often the same kind. Examples are used to exemplify and illustrate something. “Example” is also used as a tool for an explanation and reinforcement for a particular point. Examples are also used for strict compliance or as a premeditated experience. In this manner, it is expected that the example will be imitated and replicated among its audience.

Forms of examples include illustrations or citing a particular incident. Examples are often specific and almost identical to the thing that they represent. However, examples are often made with the use of sight or by observation. They are also used when the representative part is impossible to recreate or reconstruct in a given situation.

On the other hand, a sample is also a small amount of something much bigger. Unlike an example, a sample is random and not specific. Samples are often used to describe the quality or nature of a specific whole. “Sample” is often used in statistics or quantitative research as a term to describe a population or respondents.

Samples are often tangible parts and can be observed using the five senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. The word “sample” can be used as a noun and verb. As a verb, it can undergo forms with respect to time (sampled, samples, will sample) and as a transitive verb (to sample).

The modern word “example” came from three evolutions. It emerged first from the Latin “exemplum,” then evolved into Old French “example” and “essaumple”; and finally as a Middle English word “example.” Its original meaning is “to take out.” The word has been in usage since the 14th century.

Meanwhile, “sample” as a word is a term derived from “example.” It shares common etymological roots with the latter because it evolved from the Old French “essaumple.” It was used as a word a century later than “example.”


1.Both “example” and “sample” are almost identical in meaning and function but also have different characteristics of each other. Both terms are related in the etymological arena because “sample” was derived from “example” and shares common, etymological roots.
2.One difference between the two concepts is the purpose of its use. “Example” is used to illustrate or reinforce something. It is also used as a pattern or preview for succeeding incidents. Examples are made to be imitated and replicated. On the other hand, a sample is made to describe the quality and nature of something.
3.Examples are often used in situations where re-creation or reconstruction is not possible. They can be seen or observed. Meanwhile, samples can be miniature and tangible representatives of a whole or an object. The five senses can be used to examine samples.
4.The term “sample” is prominently used in statistics and quantitative research as a descriptive term. In this discipline, “sample” is a small amount of randomly selected respondents from a population. On the other hand, examples are generally used in almost all disciplines that require illustration or clarification.
5.As a word, “example” can be used as a noun and a verb while “sample” can be used in three ways; as a noun, verb, and adjective. The verb function and forms of “example” (exemplifying, exampled, exampling) are rarely used in common communications. This is contrast to the noun, verb, and adjective functions and forms of “sample,” which are used in everyday life.

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1 Comment

  1. THANK YOU! This is the information I’ve been looking for to clarify use of sample vs example. Point 5 tells me everything I need to know. I will be sharing this information with the folks I work for who are regularly confused by these words.

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