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Depository vs. Repository: Do They Mean the Same?

The words depository and repository sound similar and are often used in similar ways. It is understandable how they can be mistaken for each other. But do they have the same meanings?


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  Teri Lapping  —  Grammar Tips
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Depository vs. Repository: Do They Mean the Same?


In what ways are “Depository” and “Repository” similar?

Depository” is a noun, is Latin in origin, and is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a place where something is placed, especially to keep it safe.”

Repository” is a noun, is Latin in origin, and is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a place, a container, or a room where something is stored.”

Although these two definitions sound very similar, the dictionary goes on to further define the word “repository” as “someone or something that contains or stores something nonmaterial.” 

For example:

Many considered the book a repository of information.

From these definitions, we can conclude that whereas a “depository” is a physical place, a “repository” can be both a physical as well as a virtual place. 


The Evolution of the Words “Repository” and “Depository”


Way back in the day, the two words were similar in meaning. Over the centuries, “repositoryevolved within the context of its culture to become a more varied, more complex, and more modern word. 

15th Century: 
Repository” was first used. It came from the Latin word “reponere” which means to store.

16th century:
Repository” also came to mean someone who is trusted with secret information.

17th century:
Repository” also came to mean a warehouse, marketplace, or museum of art. 

It also came to mean someone who kept knowledge or was the receiver of trust and confidence.

Depository” was first used. It came from the Latin word “deponere” which means to lay away something or safeguard it. 

18th century: 
Repository” also came to mean a natural resource site.

19th century:
Repository” came to mean a library or an archive for rare books or manuscripts.

21st century:
Repository” also came to mean a virtual or abstractdepository.”

What does “Depository” Mean Today?

Today, “depositorymeans a physical location or an actual facility.

Some examples include: 

An office
A bank
A financial institution
A vault or a safe


The function of a “depository” is to keep valuable things safe.

Some examples of valuable things can include:

Securities and assets
Money
Concrete documents


The services of a “depository” can include

Keeping investments secure
Providing interest on investments
Offering “liquidity” and easy transferring from institution to institution
Extending credit
Immediate relinquishing of valuables when demanded
Protecting valuables from fraud, damage, or loss.


What does “Repository” mean today? 

Today, “repositorymeans a system of storage that can be concrete or virtual. 

Virtual storage repositories are used widely in the world of Information Technology (IT), where one can find many different categories of virtual repositories

Some examples include:

A warehouse
A museum
A mausoleum 
A person who is entrusted with secret information 
Something or someone who stores knowledge


In the world of IT:

A library (both a ‘repository” for books (concrete) and a “repository” for knowledge) (abstract).
Software
Websites 
Virtual safes
Books


The function of a “repository” is to keep safe concrete or abstract things of value:

Some examples of concrete or abstract things of value include:

Information- knowledge- ideas
Documents
Files
Data
Programs
Passwords


The services of a “repository” can include:

Keeping information and knowledge secure
Storing and indexing information and knowledge
Searching and retrieving information and knowledge

Summary

Repositories” and “depositories” are both options for storage, for protecting, and for safekeeping valuables. 

A “depositoryprovides financial storage of tangible valuables such as money whereas a “repository” is a virtual safe which protects abstract assets such as knowledge and information.


Tip: You can differentiate the word “depository” by remembering the word “deposit” - this is easily associated with the concrete act of depositing your money into the bank. 




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