Submitted by javid on August 9, 2008

Excess vs. Excessive

When excess is used an as adjective, are these words the same. Is there a case for using one over another?

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My sense is that excess means "more than is necessary" whereas excessive means "too much." The two are very close in meaning, but there is a shade of difference. Excess is normally used with materials, where the unnecessary matter can be disposed of. Excessive is more frequently used in an abstract sense, when there is some quality that is way over the top and should be dialed back.

The plastic model of the car had excess flashing, which we trimmed off with a utility knife.

I'm tired of the excessive violence on TV.

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