What is the difference between incident and incidence?

It is easy to get confused with the words incident and incidence as they are homophones and have a similar spelling. Therefore, authors commonly mistake incident for incidence or vice-versa in scholarly writing, leading to an unintentional change in the meaning of the sentence.

So, let us simplify the meanings of incident and incidence and give examples specific to the academic and technical writing to help you differentiate between them and use the right word easily.

What does incident mean?

Incident means an event, an occurrence, or a moment that may or may not be expected. Most of the times, it is a formal way of referring to a traumatic or an unpleasant situation. For instance,

  • Tilly told me about the unfortunate incident; I wish I could help her. 
  • We were equipped to protect ourselves if an incident of explosion occurred due to the chemical reaction. 

What does incidence mean?

Incidence means the frequency or the time intervals at which an event occurs, in other words, the rate of an occurrence. For instance,

  • The agency has reported a high incidence of car accidents in my neighborhood.
  • Our study shows that the incidence of insomnia after taking naturopathic medicine is very low. 

We hope we have cleared the difference between incident and incidence for you.

Stay tuned as we decode the subtleties of other commonly confused words so that you can always write with confidence!

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