Prodigious vs prolific

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Prodigious is an adjective that describes something or someone as extremely impressive, either in mass or quality. Prodigiously is an adverb usually used as a second modifier. Prodigiousness is the noun form.

While this word comes from prodigy (a young someone who has an incredible ability) the adjective prodigious does not refer to someone being a prodigy.

Prolific is an adjective used to describe someone or something as producing many things, as in fruit from a plant, music from a musician, or an athlete scoring points. It is also used to describe a lot of something, or in other words, something that is plentiful.

The noun form is prolificness, the adverb form is prolifically, and an alternate noun form is prolificacy.


Benefiting from Washington State’s throw-every-down offense, Mayle produced prodigious numbers in his second season there after transferring from a community college – 106 receptions for 1,483 yards, including games of 263 and 252 yards. [ESPN Cleveland]

The disease spreads prodigiously in jails and develops into hard-to-treat forms unless properly addressed. [The Boston Globe]

While Perry didn’t miss a step or a note, her act was notable less for its technical prodigiousness than for its sheer humor. [TIME]

The Red Wings outshot the potent Lightning 30-28, and held Tampa Bay Steven Stamkos — one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers — without a goal again. [Toronto Star]

Despite their prolificness, India’s studio films are uniquely identifiable. Usually a musical, with lots of singing and dancing, such films generally combine romantic plots with aspects of comedy and action, offering escapism and longer running times than are standard in most run-of-the-mill Hollywood films. [The Austin Chronicle]

“The freshness in reportage, the features, the non-fiction … it was a reminder of the prolificacy of form burgeoning in Indian literature.” [The Hindu]

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