Difference between Award and Reward

By: | Updated: Dec-21, 2017
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Let’s say you work as a flight attendant. One day, you found a bag full of cash and personal belongings, which you selflessly returned to the rightful owner. The owner gave you something in return. Can you say you were given a “reward”? Or would you say “award” is the appropriate term in this context? Confused? This article will discuss the difference between the two.

Summary Table

Award Reward
Functions as a noun which means “a prize or certificate given to someone for his achievements or milestone” or “compensation as a result of an official or legal proceeding”. It also functions as a verb which means “to give a prize” or “to grant compensation as a result of a legal or official proceeding”. Can be used as a noun which means a “prize or a token given to someone for his effort or service”, “the result of someone’s good or bad deeds” or “monetary compensation given to someone for providing information about a criminal investigation”. It is also used as a verb which means “to grant a prize or compensation”.
Given at a public event Typically given personally or privately
A committee or panel decides who deserves the award A committee is not necessary to determine who deserves the reward

Definitions

Award or reward

The word award is both a noun and a verb. It means:

  1. A prize (such as a medal, trophy or a certificate) that is given to someone for an achievement, contribution or accomplishment; for example: After directing 17 films, Thomas finally received his first Best Director Award last January.
  2. Compensation as a result of an official decision; for example: The patient received an award of $550,000 as compensation for the botched surgery that changed his life forever.
  3. To give a prize; for example: Shiela was awarded first prize in the essay writing contest.
  4. To grant compensation due to an official decision; Mrs. Jenkins, a 58-year-old janitress, was awarded $67,000 because the company illegally and prematurely terminated her employment without due process.

Additionally, before an award (prize) is given to a person, members of a panel or committee need to deliberate who deserves it among the many nominees. Once decided, the award is then given in a public event or setting.

On the other hand, reward functions as a noun and a verb. It means:

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  1. A prize or a token that is given to someone (or an animal) for his or her effort or service (or for being loyal, honest, or hardworking); for example: Sammy’s dog was given tasty treats as a reward for behaving well around the house guests today.
  2. The result of one’s positive or negative deeds; for example: Being a mother to 5 children is not a walk in the park, but the rewards definitely supersede the difficulties.
  3. Compensation for providing information about a criminal investigation that helps the authority to solve the case; for example: Joyce received a reward from the police because she was brave enough to tell them that her uncle did steal a huge amount of money from the bank and that he has been hiding in her late grandmother’s house.
  4. To grant a reward or compensation; for example: Fartun, a cab driver for 28 years, was rewarded $10,000 for returning the rich businessman’s suitcase.

Moreover, a reward (prize) is typically given in a private setting. There is no need for a panel or a committee to decide on who deserves the reward.

Award vs Reward

What, then, is the difference between award and reward?

“Award” is a noun that refers to “a prize or certificate given to someone for his achievements or milestone” or “compensation as a result of an official or legal proceeding”. It also functions as a verb which means “to give a prize” or “to grant compensation as a result of a legal or official proceeding”.

On the other hand, the word “reward” is a noun that means a “prize or a token given to someone for his effort or service”, “the result of someone’s good or bad deeds” or “monetary compensation given to someone for providing information about a criminal investigation”. It is also used as a verb which means “to grant a prize or compensation.”

In terms of the demonstration, an award is usually given at a public event after a thorough deliberation among a panel or a committee. On the contrary, a reward is given in a private setting and is not determined by a panel or a committee.

Going back to the question asked in the beginning of this article, we can say that you received a reward for returning the bag to its rightful owner.

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