Skip to main content

Association vs Society vs Club vs Order

Association, Society, Club, and Order denote a body of persons who unite in the pursuit of a common aim or object.

Association is in general used of an organization which is inclusive in its membership, excluding only those whose personal affiliations, interests, and needs are different from those of the typical member or, if the object of the organization is service of some sort, those who do not belong to the business, the industry, or the profession served.

  • the Football Association
  • a residents' association
  • The British Medical Association is/are campaigning for a complete ban on tobacco advertising.

Society is often used interchangeably with association, but it tends to suggest a more restricted aim, a closer union of members, and their more active participation, and sometimes a narrower field of choice of membership. (see also Aristocracy vs Nobility vs Gentry vs County vs Elite vs Society and Friendly Society vs Society of Friends )

  • the school debating society
  • the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • a member of the drama society
  • the American Society of Newspaper Editors

Club usually suggests such privacy that admission to membership is only through election and invitation; it often also implies quarters for the meeting and entertainment of members and therefore is applied to the buildings or rooms as well as to the organization. (see also Be in the club vs Join the club )

  • Manchester United Football Club
  • A book club is a group of people who love books.
  • I've just joined the local golf/squash/tennis club.

Order is applied chiefly to a society whose members have common aims and accept common obligations (as of working together in brotherly union and of practicing certain virtues). (see also Order vs Arrange vs Marshal vs Organize vs Systematize vs Methodize and Command vs Order vs Injunction vs Bidding vs Behest vs Mandate vs Dictate )

  • religious/holy orders
  • the Benedictine order
  • monks of the Cistercian/Franciscan Order
  • the Ancient Order of Druids