The sink and The washbasin [+ wash basin]

  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    In the USA we only have sinks.

    A sink has a faucet and a drain.

    A wash basin is a sink sized cistern that is filled with a pitcher and drained by pouring out into a sink. I would see these in old western movies, but I've never encountered one in real life.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've heard people use "washbasin" for "sink", just as I've heard "ice box" for "refigerator". :)

    I agree with Packard that a washbasin used to be a large bowl that was filled with water from a pitcher and then poured down a drain (if you had one) or tossed out the back door (if you didn't). I've actually encountered them in real life, in a backwoods cabin on a ranch.

    People I have known who use "washbasin" these days tend to use it to mean a sink for washing hands, such as a sink found in a bathroom, rather than a kitchen sink that is used for preparing food.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Packard's response is technically correct. Be that as it may, the term wash basin has carried over to modern day usage and is often used. My father used to tell me to go scrub the wash basin in the bathroom. Google <wash basin> and it will show you.

    Sinks, as I see the term used, generally refers to those found in kitchens. However, it, too has been used to refer to any vessel in the house or laundry room used for washing.
     
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    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    In British English a sink is found in the kitchen and is used for washing dishes. A washbasin is found in the bathroom and is used for washing hands. There are no jugs involved!
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In British English a sink is found in the kitchen and is used for washing dishes. A washbasin is found in the bathroom and is used for washing hands. There are no jugs involved!
    I confirm Grubble's BE view, not that he needs it. Sinks are often deeper and hold more water, for obvious reasons. Sinks don't have to be in kitchens; they can be in utility rooms, for instance, anywhere that needs a large deep basin which can hold a lot of water, for reasons other than washing the person.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree with my BE colleagues above about the difference between sink and washbasin, and that washbasin, or basin, is current terminology.

    But I have noticed increasingly that younger people refer to basins as sinks.
     

    margiemarz

    Member
    English-American
    While wash basin may be used by some, most people in America use the term "sink" for both the kitchen and the bathroom for washing the dishes or oneself.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I tend to use "washbasin" for what you wash your hands in in the bathroom and "sink" for what you wash dishes in in the kitchen. Maybe I learned this from my grandparents! Anyway, I do notice that most other people don't say this, so I somewhat reluctantly talk about the "bathroom sink" even though it actually seems slightly wrong to me. On the other hand my spouse not infrequently refers to the refrigerator as the "ice box" which grates on me!
     

    Li'l Bull

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain)
    I agree with my BE colleagues above about the difference between sink and washbasin, and that washbasin, or basin, is current terminology.

    But I have noticed increasingly that younger people refer to basins as sinks.
    A consequence of the influence of AmE, I presume.

    More than three years on, is there still a trend for young people to use 'sink' in the UK (to refer to 'washbasin')?

    Thank you in advance.
     

    AKAMAHZ

    Senior Member
    Arabic Egypt
    Hello,
    But what is the correct way to write the word? Is it ‘washbasin’ or ‘wash basin’? I have seen both of them used, are both correct?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    This old British person has always used "sink" for both kitchen sink and bathroom washbasin. It's shorter. This may just be a personal preference or quirk.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This thread has reminded me of a question I was asked once by a student from Birmingham: What is the difference between a Buffalo and a Bison? The answer is, of course, that you can't wash in a Buffalo. It only works in Brummy, I suspect.

    I must say that I don't share Mrs V's habit of calling basins in upstairs rooms sinks. For me a sink is deeper and is for kitchens or utility rooms.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello,
    But what is the correct way to write the word? Is it ‘washbasin’ or ‘wash basin’? I have seen both of them used, are both correct?
    I'm sorry, this British person doesn't use either.

    In a bathroom, it's a basin; in a kitchen, it's a sink.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    :idea:I've just remembered that I grew up in a house without a bathroom.:eek:

    My grandparents had a ewer and basin in their bedroom, and there was the kitchen sink downstairs. By the time we moved into a more modern house, with hand washbasins and a shower (such luxury), the dual-purpose "sink" was presumably already fixed in my mind.
     
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