Mutually Exclusive – Meaning and Examples in a Sentence

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you used the term “mutually exclusive” before? Did you understand what it really means? Such a simple term, but if you don’t fully understand what it means, you might be using it in the wrong context. So, take a moment to check out my breakdown of the term “mutually exclusive” and see for yourself if you’ve got it right.

Mutually Exclusive Meaning Explained

Mutually Exclusive Meaning Examples in a Sentence

When two things are mutually exclusive, it means that if one exists or happens, then the other can’t exist or happen at the same time.

It’s a term you’ll find used a lot in fields like probability theory or decision-making. But you can use it for any situation where two things simply can’t exist together.

I’ve got the perfect example from the book world. As an author, I like to make sure my books are widely available wherever readers might look for them. But some authors choose to opt into an Amazon program called KU (Kindle Unlimited).

But the stipulation is that if your books are in KU, they can’t be anywhere else. You’re “exclusive” to Amazon and the KU program. So, the idea of having your books available in KU and other book retailers is mutually exclusive.

Origin of the Expression Mutually Exclusive

The expression “mutually exclusive” gets its roots in the world of mathematics and probability theory. It was first used to describe events that can’t happen at the same time.

The term then gained a lot of popularity in the 19th century and has now been adopted in different fields, like statistics, economics, and just general language, to describe incompatible or non-overlapping points.

Is It Mutually Exclusive to or With?

When you’re using the term “mutually exclusive,” it’s best to say that two things are mutually exclusive because this arrangement emphasizes the relationship between the two elements that can’t coexist.

Is It Mutually Exclusive With or From?

Actually, you can use both “mutually exclusive with” and “mutually exclusive from” interchangeably if you want to describe situations where two events or conditions shouldn’t or can’t occur simultaneously.

Just remember that “mutually exclusive with” is going to be more common with most people.

What Is Another Word for Mutually Exclusive?

Here are some synonyms for the term “mutually exclusive” that you can use to describe incompatible or non-overlapping situations.

  • Incompatible
  • Inconsistent
  • Disjoint
  • Non-overlapping
  • Contradictory
  • Incongruous

Using Mutually Exclusive in a Sentence

Mutually Exclusive Meaning Examples in a Sentence 1
  • The two job offers I received were mutually exclusive, so I had to choose one and decline the other.
  • Being environmentally friendly and cost-effective are not mutually exclusive concepts because environmentally conscious products can be expensive.
  • My manager explained that the two marketing strategies the team proposed were mutually exclusive, so it was impossible to use both simultaneously.
  • Having patience and being a parent are not mutually exclusive things.
  • As an author, I understand that having a life outside of writing and creating several books a year is not exactly mutually exclusive.

The Bottom Line

There you have it, people! I hope my little guide on the meaning of mutually exclusive has helped you understand it better. It’s a pretty simple term that you can apply to a plethora of situations. Try it and see!

Enjoyed reading about this phrase? Check out some others we covered: