Is it Flatware? Or wait, is it Silverware? Wait, No, it’s Cutlery? What is the difference between these terms when it seems like they all basically refer to the same thing? And What the Heck Is Holloware?
FlatwareIn the mid 1800s, the word Flatware was used to refer to anything shallow and relatively flat used at the dining table from/with which to eat. This would refer to handheld utensils like forks, knives, spoons, tongs, ladles, servers as well as tabletop utensils such as plates, saucers, and other open and relatively flat dishes. By the end of the century, the term flatware was being used to describe only handheld serving/eating utensils.
SilverwareAs the turn of the century emerged, people began using the word silverware in place of flatware. The change to the term silverware most likely occurred due to the fact that many of the handheld utensil pieces were made from silver. As such, “silverware” refers to handheld utensils that were silver based; “flatware” refers to handheld and non-handheld utensils comprised of metal and other materials.
In modern times, we most often use the word silverware but now most silverware is made from a variety of metal materials rather than just sterling silver. Stainless steel, silver plate (over a base metal* or amalgam) and sterling silver are the most common modern options.
CutleryCutlery is actually a separate item altogether. Cutlery refers singularly to knives and cutting implements and originates from the old French word “coutelier” (modern French: couteau) which means knife. So technically flatware and silverware could include cutlery, but cutlery would only refer to knives or cutting implements.
While all three words actually mean different things, nowadays all three words are used interchangeably. Go ahead and use whichever term you like, chances are the person you are speaking with will know what you mean.
*To read more about Sterling Silver and Silverplate as well as base metals, you can read our blog post Silverplate vs. Sterling Silver? What's the Difference?
Laughing Frog Studio’s mission is to create high-quality, handmade, unique and one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage silverware jewelry, accessories and housewares that enchant the creative spirit, honor the eco-friendly lifestyle, and spread kindness and a sprinkle of humor as often as possible.
Other Blog Posts:
Spoon Rings and Love Over the Ages – A Unique History
Vintage Silverplate Tells a "Story" Just Like Vintage Photos Tell a "Story"
Silverplate vs. Sterling Silver? What's the Difference?
The Secret Meaning of Flowers on Upcycled Silverware Jewelry
Please feel free to share this post, but please link it back to this site. Please do not use any pictures or images off my blog without credit and linking back, blog name and company name. All original art work and projects are copyrighted and protected works. If we have used an image from your site and you would not like it featured or promoted, please let us know and we will remove it promptly.