Electrical vs Electronic

Guy Letourneau guy1656 at OPUSNET.COM
Sun Apr 25 05:29:42 UTC 2010

>>>>>> - 'Electronic' for 'electrical,'
>>>>> Maybe, but these terms are usually used with distinct meanings.  Are
>>>>> you observing speakers who use them interchangeably, as in references
>>>>> to "electronic outlets" or utterances like "We've just had an
>>>>> electronic outage"?
>>>>> LH

I have never heard anyone call the 115V socket into which one might plug
a vacuum cleaner or a blender as an 'electronic' socket - it's always
been 'electric' or 'electrical.'

The differentiating factor to me is whether or not the device relies on
semiconductors versus pre-1950s vacuum tubes and simple Ohm's Law stuff:
a motor with its wound coils is an electrical device; so are light
bulbs, oven heater elements, motorized power tools, toasters,** and most
topics involving transmission lines; hydroelectric dams, etc.

Once you enter the realm of semiconductor field effects, you move into
'electronic' devices, such as the 'solid state' radios of the late 1960s
and 1970s, and integrated circuits, MOSFETs, etc.

If you rely on a seiconductor junction to provide the function or
desired effect, it's 'electronic;' but if the device operates on
classical wires-and-fields stuff, it's merely 'electrical.'

...to me...


** except the timers: in the 1990s I remember fixing a toaset I owned be
replacig the 555 IC chip which acted as a timer; this would definitely
be electronic, whereas the nichrome wire heating elements would be
merely electrical...

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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