Difference between ‘dated’ and ‘outdated’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

Both “dated” and “outdated” can be used to describe things that are out of date, but the difference is that “dated” usually refers to things that are no longer in fashion, whereas “outdated” refers things that are not useful any more. For example,

outdated equipment = old equipment superseded by better equipment
outdated information = information that is not up-to-date
outdated software = software that has not been updated
dated design = design that is no longer fashionable
dated kitchen = old-fashioned kitchen
dated decor = house decoration that does not look modern

I hope the examples make the difference clear. Dated things are usually perfectly functional and usable; they are just not considered modern enough. Outdated things are in some way no longer usable or suitable for the purpose they were made for; they are obsolete.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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