Electric – Electronic

What’s the difference, I wonder, between something that is “electric,” and something that is “electronic”? I have an “electric” toaster, for example, but an “electronic” handheld organizer. E-mail is “electronic” mail, not “electric” mail.

In any of these cases it would be something of a verbal faux pas to get them mixed up, wouldn’t it?


  1. John says:

    Maybe…um, er, the toaster was made before they discovered…electrons(?) and so, ahem, now they…call things “electron”ic. Yea.

    Or not.

  2. Chris says:

    I always thought it was due too the ammount of current required, e-mail si electrinic because it uses small current and a toaster uses lots (so it can cook toast) hence light-bulbes are electric, and Mobile Phones are electronic

  3. rowster says:

    I think “electric” is an adjective derived from the word “electricity,” while “electronic” is derived from the word “electron.” Thus, “electric” might refer to something that uses electricity to run, while “electronic” would refer to the movement of electrons (hence, the branch of physics known as “electronics”–which began with vacuum tubes, et al). Something like that. Or not.

  4. lia says:

    rowster’s got it right. “electronic” is used to mean things that are controlled by chips (i.e. electrons), like a PDA. the toaster is electric because that’s how it’s powered.

  5. nedrichards says:

    try changing the doctype for better Mozilla, Opera and IE/Mac support of a table layout.