Incident vs. Incidence: What’s the Difference?

by Arushi Gupta

Incident vs. incidence are confused with each other frequently due to their similar spellings and pronunciation. However, they have different meanings and usage, especially in the scientific and research domains. In this blog, we will explore the difference between incident vs. incidence and provide examples to explain the right usage. 

What does incidence mean?

Incidence meaning: Incidence means the frequency or rate of occurrence of an event or phenomenon in a particular population over a specific period. In other words, it measures how common or prevalent a particular event is within a given population.  

For example, in the field of epidemiology, incidence means the number of new cases of a disease that occur in a population over a specific time period. Researchers and scientists often use incidence to understand the prevalence and spread of diseases, environmental factors, or social phenomena. 

What does incident mean?

Incident meaning: An incident refers to a specific event or occurrence that is notable or unusual. It is a discrete event that happens at a particular time and place.  

For example, in a laboratory setting, an incident could refer to an unexpected chemical reaction, equipment failure, or injury. Scientists and researchers often use incidents to investigate the causes of accidents or to understand the impact of a particular event on an experiment. 

Incident vs. incidence – Bringing out the difference with examples

To further differentiate between incident vs. incidence, let us look at some examples: 

Example 1: A team of researchers is studying the incidence of obesity among adolescents in a particular city. They collect data on the number of new cases of obesity that occur over a five-year period. 

Example 2: During a laboratory experiment, an incident occurred when a flask containing a reactive chemical shattered, causing minor injuries to the researchers. The incident was investigated to determine the cause of the accident and to prevent similar occurrences in the future. 

Example 3: An epidemiologist is studying the incidence of lung cancer in a specific population exposed to high levels of air pollution. They collect data on the number of new cases of lung cancer that occur over a ten-year period. 

Example 4: In a biological research project, an incident occurred when a sample was contaminated due to a mistake in the labeling process. The incident was investigated to ensure the accuracy of the data and to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

In conclusion, incident vs. incidence are two terms that have different meanings and usage, especially in scientific and research domains. You may need to use both these terms to investigate and understand various phenomena, including diseases, environmental factors, accidents, and experimental outcomes. 

Wait, don’t go!

We realized that the number of confusing pairs of words do not end with incident or incidence, and that there are many more similar words. To ease your research writing journey and make your life a bit easy, we have explained more such word pairs in detail. Check them here: 

Into vs. onto 

Proceed vs. precede 

Travelling or traveling? 

Among or between? 

Among vs. amongst 

If you liked these and want to read more, head to this page.

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