If you are describing a society that is made up of very similar people, would you describe this society as homogenous or homogeneous? Despite their spelling similarities, these words are not synonyms. One is an outdated term from biology, while the other is an adjective that refers to sameness. They are confusing enough that even professional journalists often misuse them.
You, however, are a discerning writer, and you understand that proper word choice can preserve your credibility. This article will explain which of these words is correct in your writing.
The word homogenous originated in early 17th century (as homogeneity): from medieval Latin homogeneus, from Greek homogenēs, from homos ‘same’ + genos ‘race, kind’.
Homogenous as adjective:
Homogenous is used as an adjective which means of the same kind; alike.
It would be so boring if all jobs and workers were homogeneous.
Homogenous is used in chemistry to describe a denoting a process involving substances in the same phase (solid, liquid, or gaseous).
The mixture is homogenous.
Homogenous as adjective:
Homogenous is an old-fashioned term for homologous which means having the same relation, relative position, or structure.
The host body rejected even the homogenous tissue implants.
The Arab world is not at all homogeneous and responses to unrest will play out very differently in each country. [Telegraph]
Complex fluids can be considered homogeneous at the macroscopic (or bulk) scale. [Physics]
But unlike the homogeneous Apple iPhones, there are many different flavors of Droid. [GCN]
Kiss Each Other Clean is much more focused and homogenous, but there’s still a lingering sense of abundant inspiration, eager to carry the songs off to different lairs. [The Independent]
Research has also proven that well-led diverse groups are better at problem solving and homogenous teams run the risk of “groupthink.” [Huffington Post]
After getting some flack for a rather homogenous cover of white actresses last year, Vanity Fair’s new Hollywood issue is mixing things up. [Gawker]
Homogenous or homogeneous:
Homogenous is an older scientific term that describes similar tissues or organs. It has been replaced by homologous. Homogeneous is an adjective that describes similar or uniform characteristics. Unless you are a 19th century biologist, you should avoid using homogenous. Today, scientists would be more likely to use homologous in place of this archaic term. For all situations where you need to describe something as having similar or uniform characteristics, choose homogeneous.
Since homogeneous has an extra E, like the word characteristics, you can remember that homogeneous describes similar characteristics.