If you meet someone with a certain vibrance, is that different from having a certain vibrancy? Or is one of those usages just simply not correct? One little letter sometimes makes all the difference, doesn’t it?
Do you have a gut instinct here? “Vibrance” vs. “vibrancy” feels like a complicated decision.
The tricky part is that these are both indeed words and that they are exact synonyms. Yes, exact synonyms. The English language’s indecision about how “vibrant,” an adjective, becomes a noun has given us two answers. Isn’t it wonderful? (Note, I might be saying that with sarcasm.)
- Both “vibrancy” and “vibrance” mean the quality of being full of life or especially bright (in color). People can have vibrance or vibrancy, and a summertime flower garden can too. “Vibrancy” came into English first, but only by a decade or so, first documented in 1890. “Vibrance” first appeared in roughly 1900.
But it’s not a toss-up between the two. If you look at popular usage, there’s a clear winner, and there pretty much always has been:
If “vibrance” is your preferred word, you’re not wrong. You’re just in the minority. No one should call you out for a typo or block you on social media for your grammar faux pas. (Meanwhile, calm down, folks. Yelling and angry typing about the words we use doesn’t actually help people as much as you seem to think.)
The fun detail that most forget or don’t realize about these words is that “vibrance,” “vibrancy,” and “vibrant” are near cousins with “vibrate.” They all share the same lineage, which traces back to the Latin word vibrare, meaning to shake back and forth, as in rocking, or to glitter or flash, among multiple other definitions. I suppose complicated words bring about more complicated words, and the confusion between “vibrancy” and “vibrance” is only a piece of that story.
And there are always stories hiding within the words we use, aren’t there?
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