The precise range of vessels denoted by pail, as distinct from the near-synonymous bucket, has varied over time, and there continues to be much regional variation. As a word for a container for milk pail has long been preferred, and it is now frequently taken to be a container for liquids, esp. one made of metal (or plastic); though originally it was made of wooden staves hooped with iron. Cf. dinner-pail n., lunch-pail n.