e·lec·tron·ic (ĭ-lĕk-trŏn′ĭk, ē′lĕk-)
1. Of or relating to electrons.
2. Of, based on, operated by, or otherwise involving the controlled conduction of electrons or other charge carriers, especially in a vacuum, gas, or semiconducting material.
3. Of, relating to, or produced by means of electronics: electronic navigation; electronic books.
4. Of or relating to music produced or altered by electronic means, as by a tape recorder or synthesizer.
5. Of, implemented on, or controlled by a computer or computer network.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
electronic (ɪlɛkˈtrɒnɪk; ˌiːlɛk-)
1. (Electronics) of, concerned with, using, or operated by devices in which electrons are conducted through a semiconductor, free space, or gas
2. (Electronics) of or concerned with electronics
3. (General Physics) of or concerned with electrons or an electron: an electronic energy level in a molecule.
4. (Electronics) involving or concerned with the representation, storage, or transmission of information by electronic systems: electronic mail; electronic shopping.
Usage: Electronic is used to refer to equipment, such as television sets, computers, etc, in which the current is controlled by transistors, valves, and similar components and also to the components themselves. Electrical is used in a more general sense, often to refer to the use of electricity as a whole as opposed to other forms of energy: electrical engineering; an electrical appliance. Electric, in many cases used interchangeably with electrical, is often restricted to the description of particular devices or to concepts relating to the flow of current: electric fire; electric charge
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
e•lec•tron•ic (ɪ lɛkˈtrɒn ɪk, ˌi lɛk-)
1. of or pertaining to electronics or to devices, circuits, or systems developed through electronics.
2. of or pertaining to electrons or to an electron.
3. (of a musical instrument) using electric or electronic means to produce or modify the sound.
4. of or controlled by computers.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Relating to devices that work by the movement of electric charge carriers (such as electrons), especially across a vacuum or a semiconductor. ♦ The scientific study of this movement, along with the development of devices such as televisions and computer circuits that work by controlling this movement, is called electronics.
Usage All electronic devices are electric, but not all electric devices are electronic. An electric device is simply one that is powered by electricity. An electric fan usually consists of an electric motor that moves fan blades in a circle. An electronic device usually has special components that control the movement of electrons across a vacuum (as in a vacuum tube) or a semiconductor. These components allow a great range of capabilities, from tuning in to radio and television channels, to performing complicated calculations on calculators, to reading the time from a digital watch.
The American Heritage® Student Science Dictionary, Second Edition. Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
electric electrical electronic
You use electric in front of nouns to talk about particular machines or devices that use electricity.
The boat runs on an electric motor.
I switched on the electric fire.
You use electrical when you are talking in a more general way about machines, devices, or systems that use or produce electricity. Electrical is typically used in front of nouns such as equipment, appliance, and component.
They sell electrical appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
We are waiting for a shipment of electrical equipment.
You also use electrical to talk about people or organizations connected with the production of electricity or electrical goods.
Jan is an electrical engineer.
They work in the electrical engineering industry.
You use electronic to talk about a device that has transistors or silicon chips that control and change the electric current running through the device, or to describe a process or activity using electronic devices.
Mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices must be switched off.
They use electronic surveillance systems.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012