Difference Between A Rug And A Carpet?

Explaining The Difference Between “Rugs” and “Carpets”

Sometimes, we take things for granted. The other day someone asked us to explain to them what is a rug and how it differs from a carpet. So we figured we would share this basic information with you.

What defines something as being a rug?

In it’s most basic definition, a rug is a woven fabric that is used to cover a specific area of the floor.

Why is it called rug?

The term “rug” typically refers to a floor covering that is smaller than a carpet and does not extend to cover the entire floor of a room. Rugs are often used for decorative purposes, to add warmth to a space, or to define specific areas within a room. The word “rug” itself has historical origins and has been used to describe woven or textile floor coverings for centuries. It is derived from the Old Norse word “rogg,” which means a cover or coarse fabric. Over time, the term evolved to refer to the floor coverings we commonly know as rugs today.

What defines something as a carpet?

The term “carpet”, which is generally but not invariably used to refer to carpeting that extend wall-to-wall, or are fixed to the floor; the difference between a rug and carpet is explained further below.

Why is it called carpet?

The term “carpet” refers to a large, thick textile floor covering that typically covers the entire floor of a room. The word “carpet” has its roots in the Latin word “carpere,” which means to pluck or seize. This Latin word was later borrowed into Old French as “carpite,” which referred to a thick fabric or covering.

Over time, the term evolved in English to describe a woven or knitted floor covering that is often made from various materials such as wool, nylon, or polyester. Carpets serve both functional and decorative purposes, providing insulation, comfort underfoot, and enhancing the aesthetics of a space. The name “carpet” reflects its historical association with coverings that envelop or seize the entire floor area.

What are the origins of the terms “rugs” and “carpets”?

The origins of the words “rugs” and “carpets” are varied but below we will discus the differences between rugs and carpets in more depth.

What is a rug - Nazmiyal

What is a rug?

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.

More about the terms rugs / carpets:

  • 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.

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