carpet and rug

Mr Bones

Senior Member
España - Español
Hello. I'd like to know if there is any kind difference between carpet and rug or they are exactly the same thing. Thak you. Mr Bones.
  • AJA

    New Member
    English USA
    I would say carpet or carpeting runs wall to wall and a rug covers a smaller area.


    In my lifetime a rug was loose and a carpet was pinned/tacked down. Carpets weren't wall-to-wall in my childhood, they tended to be rectangular (probably due to national poverty - fitting them around fireplaces would have been pricier.) and could be 'turned' after a few years to allow one to hide worn patches.


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Good point, river. It used to be common to hear people refer to "Persian carpets," but now I hear "Persian rugs" more often. I imagine that "flying carpet" is a holdover from earlier usage. I definitely think of a rug and carpet in the ways that AJA and maxiogee described, but its not a hard-and-fast distinction.



    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    river said:
    Then why does Alladin ride a flying carpet instead of a flying rug?
    I think maxiogee has the difference pretty well "nailed down." But your question makes sense, and I've given it some speculative and free-form thought, resulting in an explanation of sorts.

    In AE we have pillows and cushions, the former being loose and the latter tacked or sewn into the upholstery. So the interior of a car is "cushioned," not pillowed.

    So we have "throw rugs" and "throw pillows" to distinguish them from the stationary, in-place counterparts.

    Why is Aladdin's conveyance a carpet? Because it is a runner, or carpeting for entryway, hallway and stairway use-- and it is nailed down. You have a "Persian rug" or "Oriental rug," which are not nailed down-- they have tassels for one thing, and were used as parlor rugs, in the one room in the house that had to be spruced up sometimes at a moment's notice when unexpected guests showed up. Get it? You had to pick up the scattered daily paper, arrange the clutter, do a quick sweep-up-- and push the dust into a temporary hiding place "under the rug."

    For some reason, entryway carpeting was modeled on ornate print designs like the woven counterparts in oriental rugs. They collected a lot of dirt, and the gaudy, busy pattern hid it well. They were tacked down so they wouldn't bunch up when you wiped your feet, and stairway runners were also tacked down for obvious reasons.

    Another place you got "oriental" gaudiness in carpeting was in hotel hallways, partly to absorb the dirt from all that traffic-- and partly to muffle the noise. Hotel hallways were probably the first place where you commonly found wall-to-wall carpeting, along with tack strips and other changes in carpeting technology.

    I think when Aladdin stories became popular in the West, most likely after Richard Burton's translations, the graphic illustrations showed the magic conveyance as a runner-shaped rug, because western vehicles were longer than they were wide. Translating into English, the word "carpet" might have occurred, largely because Victorian-era carpeting tended to be used on narrow passageways.

    A little roundabout-- but I think there's some logic "running" through it. I hope it makes sense to you.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aladdin's transport was a magic carpet.
    Magic carpets, and Persian carpets in general, are excepted from maxiogee's rule:)

    What about mats?

    I think it is mostly about size, but I bet the definitions vary widely round the world.

    A carpet is big and covers most or all of the floor in a room.
    A rug is a lot smaller and covers - lets say half or less of the floor.
    A mat is even smaller ...


    Well of course Aladdin flew on a rug, you wouldn't get very far trying to fly a nailed down carpet! Would you?

    In BE pillows are for beds, cushions are for furniture and can be either stitched-in or loose.


    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    maxiogee said:
    Well of course Aladdin flew on a rug, you wouldn't get very far trying to fly a nailed down carpet! Would you?
    That's exactly why it was a magic carpet. Sheesh!

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    On this side of the pond, a rug can also mean a floor covering that's been braided, hooked, or knotted. (At least, if they're a good size, they're called "rugs". If they're more along the lines of a place to accumulate all the mud that's tracked in through the front door, they're referred to as "mats".)

    We have rag rugs and hooked rugs. Harkening back to a time when home-made items were considered inferior to something you could buy in a store, these are even now never dignified with the term "carpet" .... although a handmade rug may cost you many many times the price of a wall-to-wall carpet these days.


    Senior Member
    English, United States
    In the case of Aladdin, I think his Persian rug is called a magic carpet because the word carpet is more pleasant to the ear and it is two syllables which lend to the lyrical sound when it follows the word magic.

    Magic rug doesn't have the same "ring" to it.:p


    Senior Member
    Australia English
    The Concise Oxford's view:
    Carpet 1 a floor covering made from thick woven fabric. 2 a large rug. 3 a thick or soft expanse or layer: a carpet of bluebells.
    Originally a thick cover for a table or bed
    Rug 1 a small carpet. 2 chiefly Brit. a thick woollen blanket. 3 informal,chiefly N. Amer. a toupee or wig.

    So there you have it. A rug is a small carpet, and a carpet is a large rug.

    Carpet: 1: a heavy often tufted fabric used as a floor covering 2: a surface or layer resembling or suggesting a carpet.
    Rug: 2: a piece of thick heavy fabric that usually has a nap or pile and is used as a floor covering. 3: a floor mat of an animal pelt <a bearskin rug>
    4: slang : toupee 5: British : a blanket for an animal (as a horse or dog)
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