Equivalence vs. equivalency

  • Equivalence is the more common form of the noun meaning the state or condition of being equal or interchangeable. Equivalency is usually just a less common variant of equivalence, with the main exception being in relation to American and Canadian educational equivalency exams (see below for examples).


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    This ngram, which graphs the use of equivalence and equivalency in a large number of English-language books published from 1800 to 2000, shows that there is no competition:


    But when we generate a similar ngram graphing the phrases equivalence exam and equivalency exam in American usage, the latter doesn’t even register against the former.


    The main use of equivalency is in high-school equivalency, college equivalency, and related phrases, which mostly appear in North America—for example:


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