Labyrinth vs. Maze

Labyrinth
Maze

Although both maze and labyrinth depict a complex and confusing series of pathways, the two are different. A maze is a complex, branching (multicursal) puzzle that includes choices of path and direction, while a labyrinth is unicursal, i.e., has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center.

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Labyrinth

Maze

Meaning A labyrinth has a single through-route with twists and turns but without branches. A maze is a confusing pathway that has many branches, choices of path and dead-ends.
Level of difficulty A labyrinth is not designed to be difficult to navigate. It may be long but there is only one path (unicursal). A maze is a tour puzzle and can be designed with various levels of difficulty and complexity.
Entry and exit A labyrinth has only one entrance and that is also the exit. There is just one path from the entrance to the center. A maze may have different entry and exit points.
Significance Some labyrinths have a spiritual significance. They signify the complex and long path to reach God. Mazes are used in science experiments to study spatial awareness and (sometimes) intelligence.

Contents: Labyrinth vs Maze

edit Difficulty

A labyrinth
A labyrinth

A labyrinth may be complex but is not difficult to navigate because it has a single unambiguous route to the center and back. Mazes can be constructed with varying levels of difficulty and complexity.

edit Entry and Exit

A labyrinth typically has only one entrance and the objective is to get to the center and then return. On the other hand, a maze may have an entrance and an exit with a complex path between the two.

edit History

Labyrinth is a word of pre-Greek ("Pelasgian") origin absorbed by Classical Greek. It is also related to Lydian labrys which means double-edged axe and ‘inthos’ means place.

A maze made from Lego blocks
A maze made from Lego blocks

The word maze does not have much of a history. There was no distinction between the usage of the word maze and labyrinth. It was a place where you could wander in confusion or get lost. In modern times there are different types of maze:

In 1970 there was craze for maze; it was equally famous among children and adults. Vladimir Koziakin, Rick and Glory Brightfield, Dave Phillips, Larry Evans, and Greg Bright were famous for their puzzle books. In later years people became more and more innovative with their drawings of mazes. Larry Evans and Bernard Meyers made mazes on 3-D structures.

edit Significance

A labyrinth was considered a trap for mean spirits. In some places it is depicted as a path for ritual dances. In medieval times it took a more spiritual notion of the hard path to god, traversing the path of a labyrinth was thought of as going on a pilgrimage. Later on the religious connotation was lost and it took the form of entertainment. Recently there has been resurgence in its spiritual aspect and people get into meditative mood while going through a labyrinth.

Mazes test the navigation and directional capabilities of individuals. They are used to study spatial navigation and learning abilities of individuals. A number of books have been published with several maze and maze puzzles.

edit Video

This video explains the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.

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"Labyrinth vs Maze." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 20 Aug 2014. < http://www.diffen.com/difference/Labyrinth_vs_Maze >

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Comments: Labyrinth vs Maze

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Anonymous comments (1)

March 3, 2014, 6:17am

Mr. Laird, your logical thought almost makes sense...except you lack one crucial detail. This detail being that Daedalus's labyrinth was constructed to change its structure and pattern whenever a being entered, which is where the string comes into play. Once Theseus entered, he would be lost upon entrance, but with string, he can simply backtrack until he reaches the end.

— 67.✗.✗.29
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