Difference Between Incident and Incidence

Main Difference – Incident vs Incidence

Many people make the mistake of using incident instead of incidence as these two words look and sound similar. However, there is a distinct difference between incident and incidence, and they cannot be used interchangeably. The main difference between incident and incidence is that incidence is a general term that refers to a one specific event while incidence is a technical term that refers to the relative frequency of something.

Incident – Meaning and Usage

Incident refers to a single distinct event. It is derived from the Latin word incidere meaning falling upon or happening to. “Incidents” is the plural of incident. Imagine that you are talking about an event or an occurrence in your life which resulted in your fear of dogs. Then you can say “that incident made me scared of dogs.” Incident can be also used to refer to a hostile clash between two countries or nations as well as dangerous or exciting happenings. These meanings can be further clarified by observing the examples below.

He lost both his mother and sister in that tragic incident.

That incident put her off ice-cream for years.

One person was killed in the incident.

His time in France went without incident.

Several such violent incidents have been reported to the Police, and the Police is currently investigating theses incidents.

The conflict between Japan and China in 1932 is known as the January 28 Incident or Shanghai Incident.

“Incident” can also be used as an adjective. Here the preposition ‘to’ is often used with ‘incident’.  As an adjective, it means liable to happen because of, resulting from or attaching to (in law.)

“The changes incident to economic development…”

Difference Between Incident and Incidence

One person was killed in the incident.

Incidence – Meaning and Usage

Incidence is a technical word referring to the relative frequency or occurrence of something. This is generally used to describe a negative thing like a disease or a crime. If a certain town has a higher rate of Dengue patients, then you can say that this town has a high incidence of Dengue.

They suffer a higher incidence of measles as they were not vaccinated in childhood.

Planting Trees help reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases.

Women in third world countries face a higher incidence of domestic violence.

In physics, incidence also refers to the intersection of a line, or something moving in a straight line, such as a beam of light, with a surface. Note that the word “incident angle” is related to this concept of “incidence” in Physics.

Main Difference Between Incident vs Incidence

This area has a high incidence of traffic accidents.

Difference Between Incident and Incidence


Incident is an event or act of importance.

Incidence is the relative frequency or occurrence of something.


Incident can be used in with both positive and negative things.

Incidence is often used to describe undesirable things like diseases or crimes.

Type of term

Incident is a general term

Incidence is a technical term.

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