Instillation or Installation – What’s the Difference?

The words instillation and installation are almost indistinguishable when spoken out loud, and even in writing, they are only separated by one letter’s difference.

Sometimes, words that are this similar are simply spelling variations of the same word, but that is not the case here. Instillation and installation have separate meanings, and they are not interchangeable in any context.

Since these words are so similar, they are easy to get confused. Luckily, there is an easy trick you can use to remember the difference between instillation and installation.

What is the Difference Between Instillation and Installation?

In this post, I will compare instillation vs. installation. I will use each word in multiple example sentences to give you an idea of how they look in context.

I will also show you a memory tool that will help you decide whether instillation or installation is correct in a given context.

When to Use Instillation

instillation versus installationWhat does instillation mean? Instillation is a noun. It is related to the verb instill, which means to impart knowledge gradually or to put droplets of liquid into something. Thus, instillation is either the act of instilling something, or something that has been instilled.

Here are some examples,

  • “My eye-of-newt instillation must simmer for precisely 21 minutes before it can be added to the love potion,” said the forest witch.
  • Instillation of medicine from an eyedropper is a finicky task that is easy to perform incorrectly.

Instillation originated in the 15th century, although it came from Latin, rather than Old High German like installation.

When to Use Installation

definition of installation definition of instillation definitionWhat does installation mean? The word installation is also a noun, but it has two meanings. Installation can refer to the act of placing something for use or it can refer to something that has been placed for use.

Installation is related to install, so in other words, installation is the process of installing something, or something which has been installed.

See the sentences below for examples.

  • The installation of the new software went off without a hitch, and now our servers are back up and running.
  • The new art installation downtown has been the subject of some controversy, but it has become a popular tourist attraction.
  • “The Floating Piers” is his first outdoor installation since 2005, when he and Jeanne-Claude, his collaborator and wife, installed 7,500 saffron-paneled gates in Central Park in New York City. –The New York Times

According to Merriam-Webster, installation has been used since the 15th century, when the verb install was derived from a French term that can itself be traced back to one of the earliest written iterations of German.

Trick to Remember the Difference

define installation define instillation It’s easy to mix up installation vs. instillation, since even a simple typo can change the meaning of a sentence.

  • Instillation means imparting knowledge gradually or the process of doing so.
  • Installation means something that has been set up or the process of setting something up.

Instillation has an extra I, like the verb impart, so it should be easy to remember that instillation is a process of imparting knowledge.


Is it instillation or installation? Instillation and installation are easily confused nouns.

  • Instillation is the process of imparting something.
  • Installation is the process of setting something up.

Even though they function the same in sentences, they are never interchangeable.