Excess or Excessive? What Is the Difference? 

English is considered an art form by both native and non-native English speakers, and it is one of the most difficult languages to master for both groups. With the words like ‘excess’ and ‘excessive’ being used interchangeably, albeit incorrectly, it’s easy to understand why this is the case.

But the most significant distinction between the two words is that “excessive” refers to something that can be measured, whereas “excess” refers to something that someone performs. 

Learn more about what the terms ‘excessive’ and ‘excessive’ mean, the difference between them, and how to use them both correctly in a few example sentences by continuing to read the rest of this article.

Meaning and Etymology of Excess

The word ‘excess’ was first used in Old French around the 14th century and there have been few iterations of the word since. Stemming originally from Latin, ‘excess’ is one of the few English words that has not undergone a radical transformation since ancient times.

‘Excess’ is a noun that can function as an adjective in certain situations. The term refers to something that has exceeded a specified amount or is doing something that is not permitted. It is used to describe something that is more than it appears to be. If that is more than usual or more than necessary, it is determined by the context of the sentence.

Meaning and Etymology of Excessive

Originating at the same time as excess, in the 14th century, excessive comes from the Old French word ‘excessif’. The word, again like excess, is another word that hasn’t undergone a major change since around the same time it became popularized.

When it comes to ‘excessive’, it’s classified as an adjective, but it can also be used as an adverb. Excessive can be defined as ‘a lot’ or ‘too much’. It is used within sentences to indicate that something has passed through a normal hurdle or that something is particularly extravagant.

How to Use Excess and Excessive in a Sentence

Unfortunately ‘excess’ and ‘excessive’ are not interchangeable and are to be used differently depending on the context of the sentence you are speaking or writing. Here are some examples of how to use both excess and excessive properly within a sentence.

  • He drinks excessively every night, but then again that’s what alcoholics do.
  • She ate to excess and now she has an upset stomach.
  • Driving 90mph is excessively fast and you might get a speeding ticket if you get caught.
  • Be sure to toss the excess mulch into the compost pile when the yard work is finished.