Accomplishment vs. Achievement – What’s the Difference?

Are “Accomplishment” and “ Achievement” the same thing? Those two words are used to describe people’s successes in life, and we want to know if they are synonyms or not.

We also want to know when to use each word, to make sure we express the correct idea when using them.

Accomplishment vs. Achievement – What’s the Difference?

“Accomplishment” and “Achievement” are words we use to describe the milestones we reach in our lives, that often refer to completed tasks and projects. They can overlap in meaning in some occasions, but there can sometimes be a slight difference between what an “Accomplishment” and an “Achievement” are.

accomplishment vs achievement

Take a look at the examples below:

  • Jo has made it to the honor roll this year, and it’s quite an achievement.
  • Jo has made it to the honor roll this year, and it’s quite an accomplishment.
  • To finish college was a great accomplishment.
  • But being able to turn my degree into a successful career is my greatest achievement.

In the example, “Achieve” and “Accomplish” convey the same message. In that case, the words can interchange, because they’re acting as synonyms. However, this isn’t always the case.

In the second set of sentences, first we have a sentence that presents finishing college (an project, or task, in a sense) is quite an “Accomplishment”. The second sentence, in a deeper meaning, states the long-term career after college was a greater “Achievement”.

“Accomplishment” often carries the subjective idea of a completed task (successfully or not, it doesn’t matter). “Achievement” is more connected to the idea of a long run, acknowledged by the individual and their peers as a successful one.


“Accomplishment” is a word frequently connected to a task, or a job that was done. Although we usually connect “Accomplishments” to success, in some instances it’s simply about finishing a task or a step that must be taken (successfully or not).

The definition we find in The Cambridge Dictionary goes from “the finishing of something” to getting “something done or finish successfully”. It’s a broad meaning.

Let’s look at some examples:

  1. I accomplished my goal of running to the store before the kids came back home.
  2. I accomplished my work’s daily goal, so I can take a break.
  3. Anya and Harry accomplished the task together.
  4. Just getting the kids to school in time is an accomplishment.
  5. I felt as though all my accomplishments in the company were overlooked.


“Achievement” involves a process. It isn’t just an accomplished task, but a long-term process that involved planning and hard work. In other words, a person accomplishes many tasks, in order to reach the “Achievement” of a higher goal.

This is the definition we find in The Cambridge Dictionary: “something that you did or got after planning and working to make it happen, and therefore gives you a feeling of satisfaction”. An “Achievement” is more than a task done, it’s a reason to feel proud.

Let’s see some examples below:

  1. I read 7 books this month, my highest literature achievement.
  2. Clay won 1st place in the 100m race, making him the youngest to achieve this mark in his school.
  3. The highest achievement for many musicians is winning a Grammy.
  4. Earning my first art exhibition is my greatest achievement.
  5. Laura’s greatest achievement is to have been accepted into medical school.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of the two words do you think is used more often, “Accomplishment” or “Achievement”? Let’s take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below to find out.

accomplishment vs achievement usage

“Achievement” seems to appear much more often than “Accomplishment”. It’s difficult to assume why that would be the case, but we can imagine that people would prefer to share their hard-earned “Achievements”, instead of their “Accomplishments”.

It’s also interesting to notice, though, that the usage of the word “Achievement” has been falling consistently over the years. Not enough to risk losing the top stop on the graph, but still in a considerable way.

Final Thoughts

“Accomplishments” and “Achievements” relate to the milestones and victories we reach in our lives, small or big. Those words can overlap in meaning sometimes, but there are differences. You should use “Accomplishment” to describe small tasks and projects that were finished. And “Achievements” to describe important hard-earned successes.