Confusing words: rubbish, trash, garbage
In this post I’m going to talk rubbish. Does that mean I’ll be talking nonsense? No, actually I’m going to look at vocabulary connected to rubbish in the sense of household waste, including synonyms and related words.
So, rubbish is the stuff that we throw out of our homes. You may also have heard other words for the same thing: garbage, refuse, trash, litter, as well as words like dustbin and trash can.
Why are there different words for rubbish, and what’s the difference? In some cases, which word we use depends on whether we’re British or American.
Let’s try to make some sense of all this rubbish!
Words for household waste
|This is British English (BrE). British people throw away rubbish.|
|American English (AmE) – Americans throw away garbage and trash.|
|garbage vs. trash||Americans differentiate between type here:
garbage is used for waste from the kitchen – ‘wet’ waste, you could say;
trash is things like paper and packaging – ‘dry’ materials.
|This is not household waste. Litter is small things such as cans, bottles and paper that people leave lying on the streets and in other public places.
|This is a more formal word for rubbish, garbage and trash. The pronunciation is /ˈrefjuːs/|
|(BrE) A dustbin is a small container for rubbish, mostly outside. The modern type, with wheels, is called a wheelie bin.
|(AmE) A small container for garbage and trash, usually outside.
|A small container in a street or other public place where people can put litter.|
And to collect all this waste we need the following:
|refuse collector, waste collector||These are formal words for the person who takes away refuse/rubbish/garbage.|
|dustman, bin man||These are informal words used in BrE for a refuse collector.|
|trash collector, garbage collector, garbage man||These are informal words used in AmE for a refuse collector.|
|dustbin lorry, dustcart (BrE),
garbage truck, trash truck (AmE)
|This is the vehicle used to take away refuse/rubbish/garbage.|
Reduce waste – recycle whenever you can!
And if you didn’t work it out from the context of the first sentence, talk rubbish means to ‘talk nonsense’.