Addicting vs Addictive – What is the Difference?

Addicting vs Addictive

If you hear someone say a taking quizzes on Sporcle is addictive, you know it means something they just can’t live without or seem to pass up.  But if you hear someone say Sporcle is addicting, does it mean the same thing? You may be surprised to hear that there is actually a continuous debate on the use of these two words: which one is correct, and can they be used interchangeably? And more than that, is there one that should not be used at all? If you’re addicted to information, read on for your English language fix.


With the root word being addict, a noun, many people argue that “addicting” isn’t a verb, and arguably not even a word.  There are several dictionaries however that label “addicting” as a transitive verb, while others label it as an adjective, the same as that of “addictive”.  So, as a transitive verb, this means that the word needs a direct object, and therefore is the form of the word you would select in examples such as “John is addicting Kathy to his favorite TV show,” whereby Kathy is the direct object that is the receiver of the addicting action. Following along so far?


In contrast to “addicting,” there is no ambiguity of the part of speech: addictive is considered an adjective.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is defined as “A substance causing or likely to cause someone to become addicted to it.” Therefore, it is used to describe a characteristic of person or an object. For example: “Cocaine is a dangerous and addictive drug.” Are you hooked yet?

Which one should I choose?

In both of these cases, the chosen form of addict (i.e. addicting or addictive) is not interchangeable and therefore, each indicates they are a different part of speech with an appropriate time to be used.  In many instances however, this is not the case and the words can be used interchangeably:

“The TV show is very addictive;” or “The TV show is very addicting.”

In both cases, either form of the word is acceptable, as they are both acting as an adjective in this case.

Dazed and Confused?

Despite the confusion, these two similar words, can only be used interchangeably when acting as an adjective.  Understanding the part of speech that you are seeking to illustrate is the key difference in helping determine which form of the word to use, and whether it is correct or incorrect in any given instance.