Synthetic vs Plastic - What's the difference?

synthetic | plastic |

As adjectives the difference between synthetic and plastic

is that synthetic is of, or relating to synthesis while plastic is capable of being moulded; malleable, flexible, pliant.

As nouns the difference between synthetic and plastic

is that synthetic is a synthetic compound while plastic is a sculptor, moulder.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?




(en adjective)
  • Of, or relating to synthesis.
  • (chemistry) Produced by synthesis instead of being isolated from a natural source (but may be identical to a product so obtained).
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-08-10, volume=408, issue=8848, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= A new prescription , passage=As the world's drug habit shows, governments are failing in their quest to monitor every London window-box and Andean hillside for banned plants. But even that Sisyphean task looks easy next to the fight against synthetic drugs. No sooner has a drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one.}}
  • Artificial, not genuine.
  • (grammar) Pertaining to the joining of bound morphemes in a word. Compare analytic.
  • Derived terms

    * nucleosynthetic * syntheticism


    (en noun)
  • A synthetic compound.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2007, date=January 14, author=Elsa Brenner, title=Art House to Get a Campus, work=New York Times citation
  • , passage=Only plastics and synthetics that cannot be recycled will end up in landfills, he said. }}



    Alternative forms

    * plastick (archaic)


    (en noun)
  • (obsolete) A sculptor, moulder.
  • (archaic) Any solid but malleable substance.
  • A synthetic, thermoplastic, solid, hydrocarbon-based polymer.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Welcome to the plastisphere , passage=Plastics' are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field. Dr Mincer and Dr Amaral-Zettler found evidence of them on their marine ' plastic , too.}}
  • Any similar synthetic material, not necessarily thermoplastic.
  • (colloquial) Credit or debit cards used in place of cash to buy goods and services.
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  • (slang) Fakeness, or a person who is fake or arrogant, or believes that they are better than the rest of the population.
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  • Synonyms

    * See also

    Derived terms

    * bioplastic * plastic explosive


    (en adjective)
  • Capable of being moulded; malleable, flexible, pliant.
  • * 1749 , (Henry Fielding), , Folio Society 1973, p. 103:
  • the rage betook itself at last to certain missile weapons; which, though from their plastic nature they threatened neither the loss of life or of limb, were, however, sufficiently dreadful to a well-dressed lady.
  • * 1898 , Journal of Microscopy (page 256)
  • Plastic mud, brownish tinted, rich in floatings.
  • * 2012 , Adam Zeman, ‘Only Connect’, Literary Review , issue 399:
  • while the broad pattern of connections between brain regions is similar in every healthy human brain, their details – their number, size and strength – are thought to underpin our individuality, as synapses are ‘plastic ’, shaped by experience.
  • (dated) Creative, formative.
  • * Prior
  • the plastic hand of the Creator
  • * Alexander Pope
  • See plastic Nature working to his end.
  • (biology) Capable of adapting to varying conditions; characterized by environmental adaptability.
  • Of or pertaining to the inelastic, non-brittle, deformation of a material.
  • Made of plastic.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham)
  • , title=(The China Governess) , chapter=Foreword citation , passage=A canister of flour from the kitchen had been thrown at the looking-glass and lay like trampled snow over the remains of a decent blue suit with the lining ripped out which lay on top of the ruin of a plastic wardrobe.}}
  • Inferior or not the real thing; ersatz.
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  • * {{quote-book, title=The pirate's dilemma: how youth culture is reinventing capitalism
  • , page=, author=Matt James Mason, year=2008, passage=Frustrated by a globalized music industry force-feeding them plastic pop music, hackers, remixers, and activists began to mobilize...}}
  • (slang) Fake, snobbish. Usually refers to a person.
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  • Synonyms

    * malleable, flexible, pliant * ersatz * fake


    * elastic * genuine

    Derived terms

    * plastic beauty * plastician * plasticity * plasticizer * plasticine * plastic surgery * thermoplastic