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Difference between Award or Reward

award or reward

Understanding the distinction between “award” and “reward” is essential for accurately recognizing achievements and incentives. While both terms imply a form of acknowledgment, they cater to different contexts and criteria. “Award” refers to a recognition given for achievement or merit, often based on specific criteria or competition. Reward,” however, denotes a benefit given in return for one’s service, effort, or behavior, emphasizing a more general and sometimes spontaneous acknowledgment.

DefinitionA prize given for an achievementA benefit given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement
NatureFormal and based on set criteriaCan be informal and spontaneous
ContextCompetitions, academic or professional excellenceWork, behavior modification, casual recognition
ExamplesTrophies, medals, titles, certificatesBonuses, gifts, privileges, special treatments

Difference Between “Award” and “Reward”

Definition of Award

An "award" is a recognition or honor conferred as a mark of distinction for excellence in a certain field. It is usually the result of a deliberate evaluation process, often associated with contests, competitions, or specific achievements in academic, artistic, or professional arenas.

Definition of Reward

A "reward" refers to something given in exchange for good behavior, effort, or achievement. It serves as an incentive or acknowledgment and can be expected as part of a pre-defined agreement or offered spontaneously to recognize or encourage particular actions.

Origin of Award

The term “award” comes from the Middle English word “awarden,” which means to decide, adjudicate, or give by judicial decree. Its origins underscore the formal process of granting recognition.

Origin of Reward

“Reward” derives from the Old North French word “rewarder,” meaning to regard or to notice. It implies giving something in acknowledgment or compensation for service or achievement.


  • Award: /əˈwɔːrd/
  • Reward: /rɪˈwɔːrd/

Comparing Award and Reward

While both awards and rewards acknowledge achievements or desirable behaviors, awards are typically more formal and are often the result of competition or meeting predefined criteria. Rewards, conversely, can be given more spontaneously and are often used as motivation in various contexts, from personal to professional.

BasisAchievement, competition, excellenceService, effort, behavior
FormalityMore formal, often publicCan be informal, private or public
PurposeTo honor excellence or achievementTo motivate, encourage, or acknowledge
Example ContextsAcademic awards, industry accolades, sports trophiesEmployee bonuses, loyalty points, behavior incentives

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Award in Sentences

  1. She received an award for her groundbreaking research in renewable energy.
    • Indicates formal recognition for academic excellence.
  2. The film festival concludes with an awards ceremony where outstanding films are honored.
    • Highlights a formal event designed to recognize excellence in filmmaking.
  3. Students compete annually for the science fair award.
    • Describes a competition with a formal prize for excellence.

Use of Reward in Sentences

  1. The company offers a reward for employees who exceed their quarterly targets.
    • Describes an incentive provided for achieving specific work-related goals.
  2. He received a special reward for his honesty in returning the lost wallet.
    • Indicates a spontaneous benefit given in recognition of good behavior.
  3. Rewards in the form of extra recess time motivate students to complete their assignments.
    • Describes an incentive used to encourage a desired behavior among students.


The distinction between “award” and “reward” lies in the formal recognition of excellence versus the incentivization or acknowledgment of efforts and behavior. While awards are typically associated with formal criteria and public acknowledgment, rewards are more versatile, serving both as incentives and as spontaneous acknowledgments in various contexts.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Can the same achievement be both awarded and rewarded?
    • Yes, an achievement can be both awarded and rewarded, with the award recognizing the achievement based on specific criteria and the reward serving as an additional incentive or acknowledgment.
  • Is an award always more valuable than a reward?
    • Not necessarily. The value of an award or reward depends on the context and the recipient’s perspective. While awards often carry prestige, rewards can hold significant personal or monetary value.
  • How can I decide whether to give an award or a reward?
    • Consider the purpose of the acknowledgment. Use an award to formally recognize excellence or achievement based on specific criteria, and a reward to incentivize or acknowledge efforts and behaviors more broadly.
  • Are rewards always monetary?
    • No, rewards can take many forms, including monetary benefits, privileges, gifts, or even verbal acknowledgment, depending on the context and the intended motivation.


What is the difference between an award and a reward?

An award is a form of recognition bestowed upon an individual or organization for outstanding achievements or accomplishments, while a reward is an incentive or token of appreciation given to individuals or groups for successfully completing tasks or goals.

What is an award?

An award is a form of recognition bestowed upon an individual or organization for outstanding achievements or accomplishments. It is often given to honor exceptional performance in specific areas such as sports, academics, arts, or professional fields. Awards can take various forms, such as trophies, plaques, certificates, or medals. They serve as a testament to the recipient’s skills, talents, and dedication, and can enhance their reputation and credibility.

What is a reward?

A reward is an incentive or token of appreciation offered to individuals or groups as a result of successfully completing tasks or goals. Unlike awards, rewards are given to motivate individuals to continue performing at a high level or to achieve specific targets. Rewards can take different forms, such as cash bonuses, gift cards, extra vacation days, or other tangible benefits. They help create a positive work environment, boost morale, and foster a sense of accomplishment.

How do awards and rewards impact motivation and performance?

Awards, being prestigious forms of recognition, instill a sense of pride, honor, and accomplishment in the recipients. This recognition can fuel their motivation to excel further and serve as an inspiration for others. On the other hand, rewards provide immediate gratification and serve as powerful incentives to achieve desired outcomes. They can create a sense of healthy competition, encourage goal-setting, and drive individuals to reach new heights of performance.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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