Key Difference – Bucket vs Pail
The two nouns bucket and pail refer to a cylindrical open container with a handle. Pails or buckets are usually made of metal or plastic and used to hold and carry liquids. In most instances, these two words can be used as synonyms. However, there are certain occasions where they cannot be used interchangeable because bucket has as a more extensive set of meanings. In addition, bucket is also more commonly used than pail. This difference in usage can be identified as the key difference between bucket and pail.
What is a Bucket?
The noun bucket mainly refers to an open container with a handle. The Oxford dictionary defines bucket as “roughly cylindrical open container with a handle, made of metal or plastic and used to hold and carry liquids”. However, this word has many other meanings apart from this primary meaning. It can refer to
- Something that resembles a bucket (Ex: scoop attached to the front of a loader, digger, or tractor)
- Large quantities of something (informal meaning)
I emptied a bucket of cold water over her.
She wept a bucket.
He has already got buckets of CDs.
His wife brought the ice bucket.
The bucket bit into the river bed and scooped out the soil.
Bucket is also used as a verb in informal British English to refer to heavy raining. Ex: It was still bucketing.
What is a Pail?
Pail is a cylindrical container with an open top and a handle. Pail is synonymous with bucket, i.e., pail and bucket refer to the same object.
However, the usage of these words differs slightly since bucket has many other figurative meanings. As long as you are referring to an open container with a handle, you can replace bucket with pail.
She emptied a pail of water over the campfire.
The maid brought a mop and a pail to clean the mess we made.
He dropped the pail of milk on the ground.
Some instances where bucket and pail cannot be used interchangeably.
She wept buckets. (She cried a lot.)
She wept pails.
He kicked the bucket. (He died.)
He kicked the pail
What is the difference between Bucket and Pail?
- Both bucket and pail refer to a cylindrical container with an open top and a handle.
- It is made of wood, metal or plastic and used to hold or carry water or other liquids.
- Bucket is more commonly used than pail.
- Bucket also have many other meanings.
- Therefore, one should be careful in using these two verbs interchangeably.