What is the Difference Between a Tap and a Faucet?

kitchen taps and faucets

When it comes to plumbing fixtures, there are often terms used interchangeably, leading to confusion among homeowners and even professionals. One such example is the use of the terms “tap” and “faucet.” While these words are often used to refer to the same thing, there are some subtle differences between them. In this article, we will explore the nuances and distinctions between a tap and the best kitchen faucet, providing a clear understanding of these terms and their usage in the world of plumbing.

What is the difference between a tap and a faucet?

A tap and a faucet both serve the purpose of controlling the flow of water, but they differ in terms of regional usage and the specific function they perform. Let’s delve deeper into the characteristics and variations of taps and faucets.

The Meaning of Taps and Faucets

Taps: A Brief Overview

A tap is a term primarily used in British English to describe a device used to control the flow of water. It typically consists of a valve or a handle that, when turned, allows water to be released from a pipe. Taps can be found in various settings, including bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor spaces. In the United States, the word “tap” is less commonly used, with “faucet” being the preferred term.

Faucets: An Introduction

In American English, the term “faucet” is more commonly used to refer to the same device that is referred to as a tap in British English. A faucet is essentially a valve that regulates the flow of water. It consists of a handle or knob that, when turned, opens or closes the valve, controlling the water flow. Faucets are found in a wide range of settings, including residential and commercial buildings.

Differences in Terminology and Regional Usage

Tap vs. Faucet: The Language Divide

The main distinction between a tap and a faucet lies in their terminology and regional usage. While both terms refer to the same plumbing fixture, their usage varies depending on the geographical location. The word “tap” is commonly used in British English, while “faucet” is more prevalent in American English. This linguistic difference can sometimes cause confusion when people from different regions communicate about plumbing fixtures.

Other Terminologies for Faucets

Apart from the terms “tap” and “faucet,” there are other regional variations used to describe this plumbing fixture. For instance, Canadians predominantly use the term “tap” similar to the British, while Australians use both “tap” and “faucet” interchangeably. It is important to be aware of these linguistic variations to ensure effective communication when discussing plumbing matters.

Functional Differences between Taps and Faucets

Design and Construction

In terms of design and construction, taps and faucets share many similarities. They both consist of a spout, a handle or knob, and a valve mechanism that controls the water flow. The primary difference lies in the terminology used to describe these components. For instance, in British English, the term “spigot” is commonly used to describe the part from which water flows, whereas “spout” is more commonly used in American English.

Water Temperature Control

Another aspect where taps and faucets may differ is in their ability to control water temperature. In many regions, especially in the United States, the term “faucet” is often associated with fixtures that have separate controls for hot and cold water. On the other hand, taps commonly feature a single lever or handle that controls both the temperature and the flow of water.

Variations in Usage and Functionality

Taps and faucets also exhibit differences in usage and functionality. In some cases, the term “tap” may be used to refer specifically to fixtures used for drawing water, such as those found in beer barrels or water containers. In contrast, “faucet” is a more general term that encompasses a wider range of plumbing fixtures used for controlling the flow of water, including those found in sinks, bathtubs, and showers.


In conclusion, the terms “tap” and “faucet” refer to plumbing fixtures used to control the flow of water. While they are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences in their terminology, regional usage, and functionality. Understanding these nuances can help improve communication and ensure effective discussions about plumbing matters. Whether you refer to it as a tap or a faucet, these fixtures play a vital role in our daily lives, providing us with easy access to water for various needs.

FAQs about the Difference Between a Tap and a Faucet

Are taps and faucets the same thing?

No, taps and faucets are not exactly the same thing, although they both serve the purpose of controlling the flow of water. The main difference lies in the terminology used and the regional variations in their usage.

Can the terms “tap” and “faucet” be used interchangeably?

While the terms “tap” and “faucet” are often used interchangeably, their usage varies depending on the region. It is important to be aware of these linguistic differences to ensure effective communication about plumbing fixtures.

Do taps and faucets have the same functionality?

Taps and faucets generally have similar functionality, as they both control the flow of water. However, there may be slight variations in terms of design, temperature control, and usage based on regional preferences and plumbing requirements.

What are some other terms used to describe taps and faucets?

Apart from “tap” and “faucet,” other terms used to describe these plumbing fixtures include “spigot,” “spout,” and “fixture.” The specific term used may vary depending on the region and local language variations.