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24 / 03 / 2009

STATE vs. STATUS: meaning and examples

Good morning everyone.

Today we answer another question from a Daily Vitamin reader, this time from Josep. Here is his question.

Dear Matthew. Thanks for your efforts on the Daily Vitamin. As I see that you are frequently answering questions from users, let me bother you with my doubt: what's the difference between the words "state" and "status"? I'm a software developer and always write my code in English. When it comes to something to signal the "state" (or "status") of any parameter in my system I always wonder which to use - and I wonder whether there is any real difference in meaning between them. I hope it may help other people too. Thanks and greetings. Josep Jorba i Jorba

First, perhaps the easiest thing to do is to give the direct translations of these words to Spanish.

State --> estado
Status --> estatus; condición; situación

We can translate both these words to Spanish as estado, but I have avoided doing that above.

The word state usually refers to government and politics.

Example 1:
The state of Spain includes various autonomous regions.

Example 2:
The US State Department is advising US citizens not to travel to Iran.

However, state can also mean the mental, emotional or physical condition of a person or a thing.

Example 3:
After her husband passed away (=died), she was in a state of shock.

Example 4:
A lot of people are nervous about the state of the economy.

This second meaning of state is similar to status, but it's not quite the same.

Example 5:
After becoming independently wealthy, he had a very high social status.

Example 6:
What is the current status of our application for government funding?

I hope that helps. What I don't know, Josep, are any technical meanings of these words in computer programming. Perhaps you can give me some examples and I can give you more specific explanations. If you don't mind, please post any further comments in the Ziggurat Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (, so that all of our readers can follow our "conversation."

Enjoy the rest of your day.

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