Difference Between Nomadic and Sedentary

Main Difference – Nomadic vs Sedentary

Nomadic and sedentary are two adjectives that have opposite meanings. The main difference between nomadic and sedentary is that sedentary is used to describe people who inhabit the same locality throughout their lives whereas nomadic is used to describe a group of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another.

This article explains, 

1. What Does Nomadic Mean?
     – Definition, Features, People, Lifestyle

2. What Does Sedentary Mean?
     – Definition, Features, People, Lifestyle

3. What is the difference between Nomadic and Sedentary?Difference Between Nomadic and Sedentary - Comparison Summary

What Does Nomadic Mean

Nomadic is derived from the noun nomad. A nomad is a member of a group of people who has no permanent home. They live in different locations, moving from place to place. They move from one place to another to obtain food, find pastures for their livestock, or to make a living.

Nomadic people typically travel by animal, canoe or on foot. Most nomads live in tents or other temporary shelters. Hunting, gathering and raising livestock are their main ways of obtaining food. Nomadic people don’t travel alone; they travel in groups of families called tribes.

Negritos of Southeast Asia, Australian Aborigines, and San of Africa are some examples of Nomadic groups. The nomadic lifestyle is also sometimes adopted in infertile regions such as deserts, steppes, tundras and ice where moving from place to place is the only way of obtaining scarce resources. Some Nomadic merchants such as Irish travelers and Romani (gypsy) traders travel to find customers.

Difference Between Nomadic and Sedentary

What Does Sedentary Mean

Sedentary is the opposite of migratory or nomadic. When describing a person, this word means “tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive” (Oxford dictionary). When talking about a group of people or a lifestyle, sedentary refers to people who inhabit the same locality throughout their lifestyles. This term is commonly used in zoology and anthropology. Sedentary lifestyle is also known as sedentism. This refers to the practice of living in one place for a long time.

The majority of people who inhabit the earth belong to sedentary cultures. Agriculture and domestication of animals are primary features that are bound with sedentary lifestyles. Most researchers believe that sedentism was a prerequisite for agriculture to begin. Sedentism also increased trade and contacts between different countries and nations.  It was the development of sedentism that led to the rise of the population and formation of villages, towns, and cities.

Main Difference - Nomadic vs Sedentary

Difference Between Nomadic and Sedentary


Nomadic: The term nomadic refers to a group of people who live in different locations, moving from place to place.

Sedentary: The term sedentary refers to people who inhabit the same locality throughout their lives.


Nomadic: Nomadic people do not have a permanent home.

Sedentary: Sedentary people have a permanent home.


Nomadic: Nomadic people obtain food through hunting, gathering fruits and vegetables, and raising livestock.

Sedentary: Sedentary people mainly obtain food through agriculture and domesticated animals.


Nomadic: Nomadic people can be often found in infertile regions such as deserts and tundras.

Sedentary: Sedentary cultures first began in fertile regions which supported agriculture.

Forces of Nature

Nomadic: Nomadic people are more exposed to forces of weather.

Sedentary: Sedentary people are more protected from environmental factors.


Nomadic: As of 1995, there are about 30–40 million nomads* in the world.

Sedentary: Most of the Earth’s population is sedentary.

Human History

Nomadic: The human race was first nomadic hunter-gatherers before they settled down in one place.

Sedentary: Sedentary lifestyle started once people settled down in one place and started agriculture.


“Nomads: At the Crossroads – The Facts”. New Internationalist (266). April 5, 1995.

Image Courtesy:

“Changpas nomadic people – Changtang – Tibet” By 6-A04-W96-K38-S41-V38 – Own work via

“Rice farmers Mae Wang Chiang Mai Province” By Takeaway – Self-photographed via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

Leave a Comment

Related pages

difference between autotrophic and heterotrophic nutritioncharacteristics of dark romanticismtransnational enterpriseuses of dextrininter and intramolecular hydrogen bondingosmosis and diffusion differencesnrma international driving permitconcrete nouns sentencestons versus tonnesexamples of thank you letters to teachersconvex mirror wikipediaexamples of adverb of reasonwhat is the difference between atypical and typical antipsychotic drugssynecdoche definition and exampleprocess of oogenesis and spermatogenesisbiotic and abiotic differenceexamples of linking verbs and helping verbsdifference between counselling and therapydifference between poly and monounsaturated fatspms vs pmddetiology of leukocytosiswhat is ethanoic acidcalculating buffer capacityflirting or friendlywhat is the difference between a gulf and a baymolecular formula of atpwhat is the difference between psychodynamic and psychoanalyticnonpolar molecules examplesdifference between aliphatic and aromatic compoundsdifference between horsepower and torquehow are metallic minerals formedmain difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotichair smoothing and rebondingepithelium simpledefinition of vaporizationthe moral of goldilocks and the three bearsresonance in series and parallel rlc circuitsquietmeaninginformal report sampleshow are seeds and spores differentwhat is the difference between cougar and mountain lionwhats the difference between mitosis and meiosisdifference between compassion and pityparallel circuit and series circuit differencedifference between unipolar and bipolar depressionleast count of vernier calliper formulabroil vs bakesalmonella typhi and paratyphiconnotation vs denotation exampleswhere does transcription take place in eukaryotesdefine foreshadowing in literatureaunt auntiewhat is the difference between prose and dramawhat is the difference between rocks and mineralswhat is the difference between substances and mixturesdefinition of temporary magnetdefinition of rolling friction in physicsaneuploidy polyploidydescribe the structure and function of chloroplasts and mitochondriawhat is friction angleplane polarised light definitionstraight vs straitcystinesmacronutrients and micronutrients needed by plantsinduction and orientation in hrmwhat is the difference between a cyclone and a tornadomestizo facial featurestesting for halide ionspoems with caesurawhat is undamped oscillationdifference of diffusion and osmosischromatin purposedifferentiate phrase and clausewhat is the meaning of warm blooded animalsadenoma definition