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What is the difference between the words 'type' and 'kind'?

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November 18, 2008 7:56PM

Type refers to clearly distinguishing and essential characteristics or traits shared by members of a group. Its root meaning is "impression."
Examples:
"O+ is the most common blood type in the United States of America."
"To mankind in general Macbeth and Lady Macbeth stand out as the supreme type of all that a host and hostess should not be"--Max Beerbohm.

Kind, on the other hand, usually refers to a group trait that is shared innately by the members (see "mankind" above). Its root meaning is "race" or "offspring."
Examples:
"“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out"--Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put"--Winston Churchill.

In short, type is used to differentiate one group from the rest and kind is used to link an individual to a group.

Of course, this sort of picyune distinction is the kind of diversionary thinking that word-loving types like me enjoy...