'Systemically' vs 'Systematically': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on August 24, 2023

‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’: What’s the difference? These words provide us with another example of how just a few letters can change the entire meaning of a word, and how trying to find those few letters can cause quite a headache. Now, when those letter changes occur in the middle of a word, they can be harder to spot and harder to understand. But, we’re here to help you tell the difference between these two similar words. 

In a hurry? Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Systemically’ is a word that means something that is affecting a whole.
  • ‘Systematically’ is a word that means approaching something methodically. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’?

Words like ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’ that are so similar in appearance, and both belong to the same part of speech can be hard to tell apart at first. But, there are some tips and tricks to discerning them, and we’re here to give you those. 

Let’s start by breaking down the parts of these words. They both include the root ‘system,’ which comes from the Greek root ‘systema’ and synistanai’

  • Systema’ means “a whole of compound parts,” and ‘synistanai’ means “to place together or organize.”

Looking at the short definitions of each of our new words, we can see how their roots lend themselves to the definitions of both of these words even though they differ. The key difference in the words, of course, lies in the addition of some letters in ‘Systematically.’

Technically, in this case, both words include the suffix ‘-lly,’ if we go to the root of the word ‘Systematically’ contains the suffix ‘-atic.’ 

  •  In the case of ‘Systematically,’ the suffix ‘-atic’ helps turn the word into an adjective or adverb, and has the meaning “of,” “like,” and “characteristic of.”
  • So, ‘Systematically’ means to do something or organize something in the way of a system. 

Looking at how new words compare to each other is a great place to start when encountering words for the first time. Let’s dive deeper into the definitions of ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’.

Definition of ‘Systemically’: What Does it Mean? 

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Systemically’ is an adverb that means: 

  • In a way that relates to or affects the whole of something
    • “The banks have been systemically corrupted.”

Synonyms of ‘Systemically’

  • Structurally
  • Comprehensively
  • Inherently
  • Pervasively
  • Ingrained
  • Extensively
  • Fundamentally
  • Integrally
  • Intrinsically
  • Innately

Antonyms of ‘Systemically’

  • Extrinsically
  • Secondarily
  • Supplementally
  • Unnecessarily

Phrases with ‘Systemically’/  Systemic

  • Systemic racism
  • Systemic corruption
  • Systemic disease
  • Systemically flawed

Definition of ‘Systematically’: What Does it Mean? 

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Systematically’ is an adverb that means: 

  • According to a fixed plan or system, methodically
    • “We searched systematically for evidence.”

Synonyms of ‘Systematically’

  • Efficiently
  • Methodically
  • Orderly
  • Precisely
  • Standardized
  • Consistently
  • In order
  • Arranged
  • Business-like

Antonyms of ‘Systematically’

  • Chaotically
  • Confusing
  • Disorderly
  • Mixed up
  • Unmethodical

Phrases with ‘Systematically’/ Systematic

  • Record systematically
  • Systematically delete
  • Systematically search
  • Treat systematically
  • Systematically organize

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’

Language is not only used for written communication but for speaking and conversing as well. Part of learning new words is being able to say them aloud so other people can understand you correctly. And, with words that only differ by a few letters, like ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’, you must be extra careful to enunciate every syllable to ensure others can hear the difference. Below, you’ll find tools to help you pronounce these new words correctly. 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Systemically’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Sih-steh-mih-cuh-lee’ (the ‘ca’ sound is a flat sound like in the word “cup”)

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Systematically’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Sih-steh-ma-tih-cuh-lee’ (the emphasis in this word lies on the ‘-ma-’ which is a wide sound like in the word “mad”)

How to Use ‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’ in a Sentence

The final step to fully learning new words is learning how they work in the real world because there is no point in memorizing definitions and pronunciations if you don’t know how to use the word. Take a look at the sample sentences below to see some examples of how these words may appear. You can then use those contexts as a reference and try writing your own sentences for practice. 

‘Systemically’ Example Sentences

  • Doctors have researched systemically treating a patient's body through blood supply as opposed to just one body part. 
  • When a team is tackling an issue systemically, you need to make sure everyone is working together. 
  • The car was systemically flawed and couldn’t be fixed by simply replacing one or two parts. 
  • The company had worked tirelessly to create a product that was systemically sound. 

‘Systematically’ Example Sentences

  • She went through her book collection systematically and organized them by both author and spine color
  • The goal was to systematically attack the root of the problem until it was solved. 
  • Many patients with memory loss issues are asked to systematically complete their daily routine so, they don’t miss any steps. 
  • She had systematically planned out the order in which she would complete the steps of her project.

‘Systemically’ vs ‘Systematically’ Example Sentence

  • The government was systemically flawed, so many bills were passed to systematically repair it. 

Final Advice on ‘Systemic’ vs ‘Systematically’

When only a few letters stand between two different words, it can be hard to distinguish their meanings and functions at first. But, if you systematically approach learning, you’ll be able to tackle each part of the learning process and master new vocabulary in no time. 

Need a recap? Here’s a short review of what was covered: 

  • Suffixes are letters that change the meanings of root words. For example, ‘-atic’ which turns words into adjectives and means “of,” “like,” or “characteristic of.”
  • ‘Systemically’ is an adverb that refers to something affecting or regarding a whole.
  • ‘Systematically’ is an adverb that means to approach something methodically. 

Be sure to check out other confusing word articles to tackle more examples of similarly spelled words that can actually be worlds apart. Remember to pay attention to context and be careful with your enunciation to make sure others understand what you’re saying. Keep learning new tricks to understand words and you’ll be an English language pro in no time.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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