Map vs. plan

Arkange78

Member
French - France
Hello everyone,

Could anyone please explain to me the difference(s) between the words "map" and "plan" as in "a drawing of a particular area showing streets, buildings, etc."? I don't suppose they are interchangeable. I couldn't find anything helpful in my dictionaries.

Thank you!
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hullo Arkange.
    As a general rule maps show large areas in great detail: example. (Unless they're streetmaps. Which are the same as city/town plans.)
    Plans (e.g. city/town plans, also called streetmaps) cover smaller areas and are less detailed: example.
     

    modulus

    Senior Member
    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    Maps are what we use to find our way, for example, when we plan a trip or when we are lost.
    City and street plans are technical drawings mostly used by specialists.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Maps are what we use to find our way, for example, when we plan a trip or when we are lost.
    City and street plans are technical drawings mostly used by specialists.
    If you buy a road atlas in the USA that contains 'drawings' of town/city centres*, what are those 'drawings' called?

    * Assuming such things exist, as they do in the UK.

    EDIT: Ah we just cross-posted, Modulus:)
     
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    modulus

    Senior Member
    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    Yes we have them. Road atlases and city guides contain maps. :)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I usually work on the principle that a map shows you where towns and buildings are, a plan shows how they are built.

    Which means that by and large, maps are symbolic (they often show roads ten times their true width, for instance), whereas plans are more or less to scale.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Everything that has the streets/roads on them and used for directions - maps.
    If it shows communications / engineering stuff, and not purposed for finding directions, the it is plans.

    Yep, we are divided by the common language.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    By way of experiment, I have just pulled the first two items out of my map (?)/plan (?) drawer.

    The cover of the first proclaims "Derby Street Plan" in large letters and "Black & White Map" in smaller letters.
    The second was produced by the same publisher as the first. The cover reads "Leicester Full Colour Street Map".
    Derby and Leicester are both cities, by the way.
    Conclusion: :confused::(

    But when it comes to larger areas, particularly rural ones, I would expect "map", not "plan". "Plan of the Peak District" would sound distinctly odd.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think all plans are maps (of a sort) but not all maps are plans.

    A plan is shown in a particular elevation. You can have a plan of a building shown from the front alone, but you cannot have a map showing the front alone. Maps cover the horizontal plane only (but may cover it from various angles - see later).

    A map is basically a drawing that shows you how to get from A to B - it may have perspective; portions that are out of scale; other extraneous information. A plan is to scale and is drawn only from above, below or viewing the side(s).

    A city map is also a city plan, as the aspect of both is the same - it is to scale and from above.

    The traditional idea of a pirate treasure map would not be a plan as it would be unlikely to be to scale, and may be drawn from a strange angle and have such things as palm trees and treasure chests.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    We probably should agree that whoever drives a lorry, or a car with a bonnet, or pushing a perambulator, especially in Derby, should use the city plan, and those driving a truck, or a car with a front hood, or giving a baby a ride in a stroller, somewhere in Newark NJ, would better benefit from using the city map.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Perhaps I could point out that the term "street plan" is very common in BE and is interchangeable with "street map". However, "city plan" is not BE at all (if you mean a map showing the layout of the streets). Anybody pushing a pram in Derby would have no use for the city plan as that would more likely be the plan (ie a text document not a drawing) the council has for new shopping centres and housing than be a means of finding a route from A to B.

    @PaulQ - I think you might be getting into a muddle. A plan of a building never has an elevation, but the plans will have (plan view, floor plans, front, side & rear elevations, and cross-sectional views). There are also many plans that are certainly not maps - like the plan that Hitler had to invade England.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Even a subway map is called a map. I think most things with streets and transportation as well as geographical regions, historical regions, economic regions and other places on the Earth are called maps in the United States. I have heard the expression a city plan. It could probably be an alternative for a city map or a street map. In another context a city plan could be a design at the architect's office. Plans are used in reference to buildings: for example, a fire evacuation plan.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Both BrE and AmE based dictionaries show the overlap in usage.

    WRF (Oxford Concise) dictionary has this
    plan : a map or diagram: a street plan.
    Random house includes this in their dictionary
    Plan : a representation of a thing drawn on a plane, as a map or diagram: a plan of the dock area.

    Merriam Webster has this, which should please everyone
    Plan: a large-scale map of a small area :eek:
     
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