Difference Between Fate and Destiny

Main Difference – Fate vs Destiny

Fate and destiny are two words that are often used interchangeably, and they are both believed to be related to man’s future and fortune. Fate and destiny both refer to a supernatural power that predetermines and orders the course of events. However, there is a slight difference between fate and destiny. The main difference between fate and destiny is that fate is unavoidable or inevitable whereas destiny can be changed.

What is Fate

Fate is a supernatural power that is believed to control the events in the future. The term fate comes from, Latin fatum meaning ‘that which has been spoken’. Fate is based on the idea that there is a set natural order in the universe, and it cannot be changed however hard we tried. Therefore, fate is believed to be inevitable or unavoidable. Fate is also believed to be divinely inspired. In Greek and Roman mythology, fate refers to the three goddesses Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who control the birth and life of humans. Each individual was thought of as a spindle, around which the three Fates would spin the thread of destiny.

Fate is often associated with negative connotations when compared to destiny. For example, a person who has experienced a misfortune might resign himself to fate. Since he thinks that fate is inevitable, he wouldn’t try to change his future. This belief that all events are predetermined and, therefore, inevitable is called fatalism. Phrases and idioms like seal one’s fate, a fate worse than death, etc. also implies this negative connotation.

Difference Between Fate and Destiny

Fate is a major theme in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

What is Destiny

Destiny refers to the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. Destiny also refers to a power that controls one’s future. The term destiny comes from Latin destinata meaning to establish or make firm. This too refers to the idea of predetermined events. However, it is a common belief that destiny, unlike fate, can be changed or shaped by an individual. Qualities like hard work, effort, patience, courage can help you to change your destiny. A person can choose his own destiny. In this sense, destiny is slightly positive than fate. Destiny can also be a result of a person’s actions.

Main Difference - Fate vs Destiny

An allegorical representation of the ‘Manifest Destiny’, a belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent.

Difference Between Fate and Destiny


Fate refers to a predetermined course of events that is inevitable.

Destiny refers to a predetermined course of events that can be shaped by an individual


Fate is believed to be inevitable; it cannot be changed, no matter how hard you try.

Destiny can be changed by an individual.


Fate is often associated with negative connotations and tends to give rise to pessimistic views.

Destiny is not associated with negative connotations and give rise to optimistic views.Difference Between Fate and Destiny - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Leighton – Reconciliation watercolor” by Frederic Leighton – 1. Shakespeare Illustrated2. Yale Center for British Art. (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

“American progress” by John Gast (painter) – scan or photograph of 1872 painting. (Public Domain) via Commons

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