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Sum vs. Total: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Sum refers to the result of adding numbers together, while total is the complete amount or quantity of all counted or calculated elements.
Sum vs. Total

Key Differences

Sum is a term commonly used in mathematics, specifically referring to the result obtained from adding two or more numbers. Total, however, encompasses the whole amount or quantity of something, often used in contexts beyond just arithmetic.
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In mathematical operations, 'sum' is used to denote the answer to an addition problem. 'Total' can refer to the final amount in various contexts, such as the total cost of items purchased or the total number of items.
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Nov 19, 2023
While 'sum' is primarily associated with the process of addition, 'total' is often used as both a noun and a verb, indicating the act of calculating the total amount or describing the overall quantity.
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Nov 19, 2023
Sum is more specific in its application to the field of mathematics and arithmetic calculations. Total is a more versatile term, used in various fields like accounting, statistics, and everyday language to denote the aggregate or complete amount.
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Nov 19, 2023
In a broader sense, 'sum' also implies a summary or brief, but this is a secondary meaning. 'Total', on the other hand, can also imply the entirety or the whole of something in a more general sense.
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Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

The result of adding numbers
The complete amount or quantity
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Usage Context

Primarily in mathematics
Various contexts, including math
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Additional Meanings

Can imply a summary or brief
Implies entirety or whole of something
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Function in a Sentence

Usually a noun
Can be used as both a noun and verb
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Specificity

More specific to arithmetic
More versatile and general
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Sum and Total Definitions

Sum

Total obtained by adding numbers.
He calculated the sum of all expenses.
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Nov 19, 2023

Total

The complete amount.
The total cost of the project was $10,000.
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Nov 19, 2023

Sum

An amount obtained through addition.
The sum of the parts equals the whole.
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Nov 19, 2023

Total

The entirety of something counted or calculated.
The total number of participants was 200.
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Sum

A mathematical term for addition result.
Find the sum of these three numbers.
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Total

Aggregate sum of various elements.
The total of all invoices was higher this month.
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Nov 19, 2023

Sum

Aggregate amount in arithmetic.
The sum for this equation is 15.
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Total

Comprehensive quantity or amount.
The total damage from the storm is still being assessed.
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Nov 19, 2023

Sum

An amount obtained as a result of adding numbers.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.
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Sum

An arithmetic problem
A child good at sums.
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Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety
The storm damaged the total of the housing units.
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Sum

The whole amount, quantity, or number; an aggregate
The sum of the team's combined experience.
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Total

Of, relating to, or constituting the whole amount; entire
The total population of the city.
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Sum

An amount of money
Paid an enormous sum.
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Total

Complete; utter; absolute
Total concentration.
A total effort.
A total fool.
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Sum

A summary
My view of the world, in sum.
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Total

To determine the total of; add up
They totaled the applications at 600.
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Sum

The central idea or point; the gist.
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Total

To equal a total of; amount to
The week's receipts totaled more than $90,000.
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Sum

(Mathematics) To add.
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Total

To wreck completely; demolish
The driver survived the crash but totaled the car.
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Sum

To give a summary of; summarize.
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Total

To add up; amount
It totals to $25.
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Sum

A quantity obtained by addition or aggregation.
The sum of 3 and 4 is 7.
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Total

An amount obtained by the addition of smaller amounts.
A total of £145 was raised by the bring-and-buy stall.
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Sum

(often plural) An arithmetic computation, especially one posed to a student as an exercise (not necessarily limited to addition).
We're learning about division, and the sums are tricky.
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Total

Sum.
The total of 4, 5 and 6 is 15.
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Sum

A quantity of money.
A tidy sum
The sum of forty pounds
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Total

Entire; relating to the whole of something.
The total book is rubbish from start to finish.
The total number of votes cast is 3,270.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

A summary; the principal points or thoughts when viewed together; the amount; the substance; compendium.
This is the sum of all the evidence in the case.
This is the sum and substance of his objections.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

(used as an intensifier) Complete; absolute.
He is a total failure.
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Sum

A central idea or point; gist.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

(mathematics) (of a function) Defined on all possible inputs.
The Ackermann function is one of the simplest and earliest examples of a total computable function that is not primitive recursive.
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Sum

The utmost degree.
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Total

(transitive) To add up; to calculate the sum of.
When we totalled the takings, we always got a different figure.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

(obsolete) An old English measure of corn equal to the quarter.
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Total

To equal a total of; to amount to.
That totals seven times so far.
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Sum

The basic unit of money in Kyrgyzstan.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

To demolish; to wreck completely. (from total loss)
Honey, I’m OK, but I’ve totaled the car.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

The basic unit of money in Uzbekistan.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

(intransitive) To amount to; to add up to.
It totals nearly a pound.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

A type of administrative district used in China, Mongolia, and Russia. In Mongolia, a sum is smaller than a province. In China, it is only used in Inner Mongolia, where it is equivalent to a township.
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Total

Whole; not divided; entire; full; complete; absolute; as, a total departure from the evidence; a total loss.
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Sum

(transitive) To add together.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

The whole; the whole sum or amount; as, these sums added make the grand total of five millions.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

(transitive) To give a summary of.
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Total

To bring to a total; also, to reach as a total; to amount to.
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Sum

Eye dialect of some
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Total

To determine the total of (a set of numbers); to add; - often used with up; as, to total up the bill.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

Eye dialect of some
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Total

To damage beyond repair; - used especially of vehicles damaged in an accident; as, he skid on an ice patch and totaled his Mercedes against a tree. From total loss.
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Sum

The aggregate of two or more numbers, magnitudes, quantities, or particulars; the amount or whole of any number of individuals or particulars added together; as, the sum of 5 and 7 is 12.
Take ye the sum of all the congregation.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

The whole amount
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Sum

A quantity of money or currency; any amount, indefinitely; as, a sum of money; a small sum, or a large sum.
With a great sum obtained I this freedom.
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Total

A quantity obtained by addition
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Sum

The principal points or thoughts when viewed together; the amount; the substance; compendium; as, this is the sum of all the evidence in the case; this is the sum and substance of his objections.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

Add up in number or quantity;
The bills amounted to $2,000
The bill came to $2,000
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Sum

Height; completion; utmost degree.
Thus have I told thee all my state, and broughtMy story to the sum of earthly bliss.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town
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Sum

A problem to be solved, or an example to be wrought out.
A sum in arithmetic wherein a flaw discovered at a particular point is ipso facto fatal to the whole.
A large sheet of paper . . . covered with long sums.
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Total

Constituting the full quantity or extent; complete;
An entire town devastated by an earthquake
Gave full attention
A total failure
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Sum

To bring together into one whole; to collect into one amount; to cast up, as a column of figures; to ascertain the totality of; - usually with up.
The mind doth value every moment, and then the hour doth rather sum up the moments, than divide the day.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

Including everything;
The overall cost
The total amount owed
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Sum

To bring or collect into a small compass; to comprise in a few words; to condense; - usually with up.
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard," in few words sums up the moral of this fable.
He sums their virtues in himself alone.
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

Without conditions or limitations;
A total ban
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Sum

To have (the feathers) full grown; to furnish with complete, or full-grown, plumage.
But feathered soon and fledgeThey summed their pens [wings].
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Oct 19, 2023

Total

Complete in extent or degree and in every particular;
A full game
A total eclipse
A total disaster
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

A quantity of money;
He borrowed a large sum
The amount he had in cash was insufficient
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Total

To calculate the overall amount.
Total the scores to find the winner.
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Nov 19, 2023

Sum

A quantity obtained by addition
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Sum

The final aggregate;
The sum of all our troubles did not equal the misery they suffered
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience;
The gist of the prosecutor's argument
The heart and soul of the Republican Party
The nub of the story
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Sum

The whole amount
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Sum

The basic unit of money in Uzbekistan
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Sum

A set containing all and only the members of two or more given sets;
Let C be the union of the sets A and B
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Sum

Be a summary of;
The abstract summarizes the main ideas in the paper
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Sum

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town
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Oct 19, 2023

Sum

The result of addition.
The sum of 5 and 7 is 12.
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Nov 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is sum used in mathematical equations?

Yes, it's a common term in arithmetic.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is sum always about numbers?

Primarily, yes, it refers to the result of adding numbers.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can total refer to a quantity of items?

Yes, it can refer to the complete count of items.
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Nov 19, 2023

Does total imply completeness?

Yes, it denotes the complete amount or entirety.
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Nov 19, 2023

Do sums only apply to positive numbers?

No, sums can involve any numbers, including negatives.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can total be a verb?

Yes, it can be used as a verb meaning to calculate the total.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is total used in accounting?

Yes, it's commonly used to indicate the overall amount.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are sums important in budgeting?

Yes, they're crucial for calculating expenses.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can sum have non-mathematical meanings?

Yes, it can also mean a summary or essence.
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Nov 19, 2023

Are sums always exact?

In mathematics, sums are exact, but the term can be used loosely.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is sum used in statistics?

Yes, it's used to describe the total of a data set.
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Nov 19, 2023

Does sum refer to an addition process?

Yes, it's specifically the result of addition.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can sum be used in summaries?

Yes, but this is a less common usage.
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Nov 19, 2023

Does total encompass all aspects?

Yes, it includes all elements in a count or calculation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Is sum limited to two numbers?

No, it can involve adding any number of values.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can total indicate the final amount?

Yes, it often refers to the final or overall amount.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Can total be used in everyday language?

Yes, it's used to refer to the overall amount in various contexts.
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Nov 19, 2023

Can total be partial?

No, total implies completeness.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is total an aggregate?

Yes, it's an aggregate sum or amount.
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Nov 19, 2023

Is total a broader term than sum?

Yes, it has a wider range of applications.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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