What is the Difference Between Cutlery and Flatware

In a general sense, there is no difference between cutlery and flatware. However, in a traditional sense, flatware does not include knives and related cutting instruments, but the most common types of cutlery are spoons, forks and knives. Moreover, the flatware can sometimes also refer to flat tableware.

In brief, both cutlery and flatware refer to hand-held instruments we use for preparing, serving, and eating food. Therefore, in that sense, they both are synonyms. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cutlery 
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Flatware
     – Definition, Features
3. What is the Difference Between Cutlery and Flatware
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Cutlery, Flatware, Silverware

What is Cutlery

Cutlery refers to the hand-held instruments used in preparing, serving, and eating food. The origins of this word can be seen in the Latin word ‘culter’ (knife). Knives, forks, and spoons are the most common types of cutlery. In modern days, hybrid versions of cutlery are also used for – spork (spoon + fork), spife (spoon + knife), and knork (knife + fork). Moreover, there are different types of spoons and knives, according to their function. Salad spoon, dessert spoon, butter knife, soup spoon, dessert fork, sugar spoon, cake knife, etc. are some such examples. Teaspoon and tablespoon are perhaps the most common types of spoons we all know.

Difference Between Cutlery and Flatware

Cutlery is usually made with metals like silver or stainless steel. Sterling silver is the traditional material from which good cutlery sets are made. In modern times, wooden and plastic cutlery is also available in the market. Plastic cutlery is usually used for fast food and is disposable. There is also a new and eco-friendly edible cutlery, which is made from grains.Main Difference - Cutlery vs Flatware

In the formal dinners, servers place the cutlery in a traditional manner. There are two sets of knives and forks, a smaller set for the first course and a larger set for the main course. Cutlery for next courses is usually delivered with the courses. It’s also important to note that cutlery is specially used for eating in Western culture; in some oriental culture, people eat food by hand or with chopsticks.

What is Flatware

Flatware is another word for cutlery. However, there is a slight difference between cutlery and flatware. In the traditional sense, flatware does not contain knives and related cutting instruments, which are typically labelled as cutlery; it only includes spoons and forks. Moreover, the word flatware is more common in the United States.

It’s also interesting to note that in British English, flatware can also refer to flat tableware. In fact, Oxford Languages define flatware as ‘relatively flat items of crockery such as plates and saucers’.

Difference Between Cutlery and Flatware

The two terms cutlery and flatware generally refer to hand-held instruments we use for preparing, serving, and eating food. However, there is a slight difference between cutlery and flatware.

  • In the traditional sense, flatware does not include knives and related cutting instruments, which people identify as cutlery.
  • Moreover, in British English, flatware can also refer to flat tableware, such as saucers and plates.

Conclusion

In general, there is no difference between cutlery and flatware. Both refer to hand-held instruments we use for preparing, serving, and eating food. Therefore, these are synonyms. However, in the traditional sense, there is a slight difference between cutlery and flatware. In the traditional sense, flatware does not contain knives, but they are a part of the cutlery.

Reference:

1. “Flatware.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 Apr. 2015, Available here.
2. “Food & Beverage Services – Use Of Cutlery.” Tutorialspoint, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “673248” (CC0) via Pxhere 
2. “Formal Place Setting” By Hopefulromntic – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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