What Is The Difference Between A Rug And A Carpet?

Explaining The Difference Between A Rug and A Carpet

So What Is Really The Difference Between A Rug And A Carpet?

Even through we tend to use the terms carpet and rug like they mean the same thing, technically, there is actually a world of difference between the two. Both a rug and a carpet are used to refer to a piece of thick cloth that is normally woven by using organic fibers such as cotton, jute (a vegetable fiber that can be spun into a strong, coarse thread), silk or wool. A rug or carpet can also be made out of synthetic materials and both are often used to decorate homes and offices around the world.

Carpet Vs. Rug by Nazmiyal
Carpet Vs. Rug

There are almost limitless ways to create a rug or carpet, and how they look is often dependent on the part of the world from which they came as well as when they were woven.

The term carpet actually has a long linguistic history. It is often traced back to the Old French world “carpite” (a highly decorated cloth), which was derived from the Old Italian “carpita” (a thick cloth made of wool), which is also defined as “to pluck”.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word carpet was initially used in English in the late 1200’s, when it was used to describe a coarse cloth.

By the 1300’s, the term carpet also meant tablecloth or bedspread.

The Old Italian word “carpita” more than likely grew out of the Old Latin word “carpere” (to pluck or card).

By the 1400’s, the word carpet was being used as the word for floor coverings. “Carpet” was also used to refer to table, bed and wall coverings since floor coverings did not come into widespread use in Europe until the 1400’s and 1500’s.

English speakers first began using the word rug to mean coarse fabric in the mid 15th Century. Linguistics trace the origin of the word rug to the Old Norse word “rogg” (defined as shaggy tuft) and from the pre German word “rawwa” and by the early 19th Century, the word “rug” had come to mean floor mat.

Some use the word carpet to mean running from wall to wall. This is probably in reference  to machine made wall to wall carpeting that can be both quickly made and installed to cover an entire room of virtually any size.

Wall to Wall Carpet / Carpeting by nazmiyal
Wall to Wall Carpet / Carpeting

Both area rugs and area carpets can simply be laid anywhere on a floor and easily moved, while wall to wall carpeting is permanently affixed to the floor.

Dinning Room Area Rug by Nazmiyal
Dinning Room Area Rug (Interior by Coco Arnesen and Kate Draper)

One of the more official definitions the words rug and carpet has to do with size. The word rug has come to mean a smaller item (as in an area rug that is around 4 feet by 6 feet or less) while the word carpet reflects bigger items (as in an area carpet that are over 4 feet wide and 6 feet long). Both carpets and rugs are basically floor coverings, with the only difference being in how large they are.

The Difference Between A Rug And A Carpet by nazmiyal
The Difference Between A Rug And A Carpet

So while we would like to think that a rose by any other name…. as noted above, there are in fact differences between a rug and a carpet.

This rug blog that explains the difference between a rug and a carpet was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in New York City.