Extant - extent

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Do not confuse the similar words extant and extent.

  • Extant is an adjective. It means 'still in existence'. We can say that 'the oldest manuscript of Vergil still extant is in the Vatican library', or that 'birds are the nearest extant relatives of the dinosaurs'.
  • Extent is an abstract noun, from the verb 'to extend'. It means, in general, 'the size' or 'length' of something.

Note that while extent is always pronounced with the stress on the second syllable (IPA: / ɛk 'stɛnt/), extant may be pronounced with the stress on either syllable, with the vowel in the second syllable, if unstressed, pronounced as a shwa (the vowel of unstressed ‘the’) (IPA: /'ɛk stənt/) and, if stressed, as the ‘a’ in ‘cat’ (IPA: /ɛk 'stænt/).