Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Average and Mean

mean-averageAverage vs Mean

Average or mean? Are there any differences?

The term ‘average’ is used to express that something is statistically the norm. It would mean that a value is expected, middle, usual or common. The ‘average’ represents a value that would best represent a sample.

In mathematics, we normally consider average as the sum of all values divided by the number of values added. Strictly speaking, it is the ‘arithmetic mean’, or simply referred to as the ‘mean’. The mean is almost considered synonymous with average, but statisticians will definitely disagree, because, in essence, mean is only a form of describing an average.

An average can be described in many ways. Aside from expressing it as the mean of the sample, it can also be given as the median or the mode.

Median is the central point of the set. In statistics, it is usually the number that occurs in the middle of a set of numbers. A description of the average can be in the median, some of the time, if it is considered as the most suitable way to describe the central tendency of a particular sample.

The mode is the value that occurs most frequently in a data set. It is also considered a form of average. It will state, that the most frequently occurring data, is the average of the sample. It is also one of the most common ways to express an average, next to mean.

Having said all of that, the term ‘average’ encompasses several ways to measure what value best characterizes a particular sample. The terms and measurements that are used will really depend on the situation. It will greatly be based on how you want describe a certain data set or sample.

Additionally, mean can be in many types as well, e.g. quadratic mean, harmonic mean, geometric mean, etc. Apparently, arithmetic mean is the only one that distinguishes itself as a form of average.

In language, people will normally use the term ‘average’ in casual conversations. Mean is usually used by mathematicians and statisticians.


1. Average can be in mean (arithmetic mean), median, or mode. Mean is basically a form of describing an average of the sample.

2. Mean can be in many various types too, but only the arithmetic mean is considered as a form of average.

3. ‘Average’ is usually used in casual English conversation, while ‘mean’ is usually used in technical language.

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  1. I posted a blog post on this same subject a while back. It can be a bit confusing for some people.
    This article explains everything very clearly! However, in case you need more, my post is a free video lecture on Mean, Median, Mode and Range: http://blog.thinkwell.com/2010/08/7th-grade-math-mean-median-mode-and-range.html

  2. Very good explanation! Now I got it.

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