Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between the Words ‘Agenda’ & ‘Itinerary’

Word ‘Agenda’ vs Word ‘Itinerary’

What is the difference between the words ‘Agenda’ and ‘Itinerary’? The words could easily be confused, but there is a significant difference in their respective meanings. First, let’s consider ‘agenda’. An agenda is defined as a detailed outline or list of what needs to be done or is going to be done. It could also refer to things that need to be discussed or considered. So it would be correct to say, “There are 10 items on the agenda for our meeting today.”, “Would you like to add anything to the agenda?” or “I will check to see if I remembered to put going to the store on my agenda for today.” is common to say.

Some synonyms or words that have a similar basic meaning as ‘agenda’ are program, calendar or docket. A program implies planned list of events and details regarding them, and it would be appropriate to say, “The agenda for the meeting is in the email I sent”. In this case, ‘agenda’ usually can only be substituted for a written meeting or conference type of program, as it would not be used with a performance type of program, such as the audience receives when going to the theater. A person might also say, “Let me check my personal agenda to see if I have time for an appointment”, meaning they need to check their calendar or schedule. ‘Docket’ generally has a legal meaning to it, but can also refer to any type of list of things to do.

While the word ‘itinerary’ is also a plan of things to do, it carries the implication of travel with it. An itinerary is a written plan of where you are going and what you are going to do when you go on a trip. A traveler might say, “I left my itinerary with my family, so they would know where I was going to be each day” or “There was not much of an itinerary, because the trip was so short”. It also refers to an official document from a company that supplies traveling services or transportation that states the places going, the transportation taken, or the accommodations of a place. For example one could say, “The travel agency sent my itinerary with my airline, hotel and touring information.”

Interestingly, a thesaurus will generally list both ‘agenda’ and ‘itinerary’ as synonyms with each other. However, in most instances these cannot be interchanged. It can never be said, “You need to type out a full itinerary for the meeting”. That would be incorrect. ‘Itinerary’ can only be used when associated with a journey or traveling. Generally too, since the word ‘itinerary’ is so specialized for travel, a person does not call an itinerary a ‘travel agenda’, although it would not necessary be incorrect to do so. An itinerary is in reality an agenda of a person’s upcoming travels, but that is not a common usage of the word.

So to remember the difference in the usage of the words ‘agenda’ and ‘itinerary’, keep in mind that agenda is any general type of list of things that are to be done or scheduled. The only exception would be in referring to a plan for traveling, then the word ‘itinerary’ more properly used.

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1 Comment

  1. This is not correct: “A person might also say, ‘Let me check my personal agenda to see if I have time for an appointment,’ meaning they need to check their calendar or schedule.”
    A person would check his schedule, calendar, or day planner; not his agenda. A “personal agenda” is a list of personal goals or objectives (but not necessarily written down anywhere) and has a negative connotation. Someone might say, “Watch out for that guy! His devious personal agenda has gotten people fired from this company.”

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