Faucet vs Spigot vs Tap

Do you use a faucet, tap, or spigot to wash your hands at the sink? Even though many English speakers perceive these words as synonyms, are they all the same thing? Are there any technical differences between these three? Let’s find out.

A faucet is a water fixture that is used to control the flow of water within a house or building (kitchen sinks, wash basin). This term is relatively used by American speakers. In contrast, a water valve used outside the house (such as one attached to a hose pipe) is called a spigot. However, in the British language, faucets and spigots are commonly referred to as taps.

I know this explanation may not be enough for you to comprehend the difference and this may sound confusing to you. So, further, in this article, I will thoroughly explain each of these terms one by one and then compare them.

What is a Faucet?

The term faucet is commonly by American speakers to describe any water regulation fixture used inside the house i.e. in the bathroom or kitchen. A faucet is usually stylish since it is used inside Moreover, it regulates both the water lines i.e. hot and cold ones.

Based on the principle of operation, faucets are available in various types i.e. cartridge, ball, compression, and disc faucets.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets are mostly common in houses. This type of faucet comprises two handles. One is used for regulating the hot water while the other is for the cold water. The added benefit is that you can operate both handles simultaneously and mix up the two water lines.

Compression Faucets

Just like Cartridge Faucets, compression faucets are also double-handed i.e. they can regulate both water lines. However, unlike them, they bear cylindrical knobs instead of handles. These knobs can be turned in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction to turn ON and off the faucet. These older designs are now not common in houses.

Disc Faucets

Disc Faucets

Discs faucets are modern faucets. You can easily identify them from their lever, which is attached to the cylindrical body. The added benefit is that the disc inside these faucets is actually the mixing chamber. Here, the hot and cold water lines are managed using a pressure cartridge.  

For regulating the water flow, two discs in the mixing chamber rise and fall. And handle rotation from the side changes the temperature. 

Due to their high level of tactile sensitivity, these faucets are excellent for those who struggle with hand grip or arthritis.

These faucets are top-notch, durable, and seldom need to be fixed. However, this makes them a little expensive.

Ball Faucets

Ball Faucet

Ball Faucets have a singular handle that controls an inner metallic or plastic ball. The ball further contains O-rings and seals. The ball position determines the flow of water out of the faucet. The handle can in different directions which gives the user better control. The common use case of these faucets is in kitchens.

Ball faucets leak more frequently than some washerless faucets because of the greater number of components that go into making them. However, the ball faucet is affordable since it uses older technology.

What is a Spigot?


Unlike faucets, a spigot is a water fixture that is usually used for outdoor operations.

Spigots are less aesthetically pleasing than ordinary faucets since they are mounted on external walls. They may just include a metal pipe and a valve, which frequently has an asymmetrical form and can be twisted counterclockwise for turning on the water flow.

This valve most usually regulates the amount of water that comes from the pipes, but it can not regulate the temperature—that’s the primary distinction between a spigot and a faucet since a faucet normally regulates both the amount of water and the temperature of that water.

Spigots can be of various types such as hose bib spigots, yard spigots, etc.

What is a Tap?

Tap is the British word for faucets and spigots. And British speakers use it commonly for all types of faucets and spigots.

However, in the American language, it is a faucet with two distinct positions, ON and OFF. So, the tap is the simplest of the three water fixtures.

It can either consider consist of a lever, that can be flipped up or down or a push button. In tap, you have either of the two cases, either water flows or it doesn’t flow. There isn’t an intermediate state for changing the flow.  Taps are usually fixed on water dispensers, coolers, or in water tanks

Faucet vs. Spigot vs. Tap

Since I have explained thoroughly each of the three water fixtures, let’s compare them in terms of their use, appearance, function, and applications.


The terms faucet and spigots are commonly used by American speakers while Tap is a term for faucets.


A faucet can regulate water flow as well as temperature, whereas a spigot can just regulate the flow. However, the tap can just turn ON and OFF the water supply.


A faucet can regulate water flow as well as temperature, whereas a spigot can just regulate the flow. However, the tap can just turn ON and OFF the water supply.


A faucet is a common household water fixture we use indoors i.e. kitchen sinks, and bathtubs, while a spigot is usually for outdoor applications i.e. watering the garden through the hose. Whereas, the tap is attached to water tanks, dispensers, and coolers.


A faucet is most stylish in appearance compared to the other two since it is used inside. And people usually prefer taps that look nice and sturdy inside their homes.

The best way to distinguish between all these terms is to compare them in tabular form. Here’s a table that summarizes the difference between the three all types.

A water fixture is used for application within the house.A water fixture used for outdoor applicationsUsed as an attachment on various water storage devices.
Term Used by American SpeakersTerm Used by American SpeakersA term for faucets & spigots in the British language. In the American language, it means a simplistic water fixture
Can bear two knobsContains a single knobSingle knob
Can regulate water flow and temperatureJust regulates water flowNo regulation, just ON and OFF operation
Handle both hot and cold-water linesHandle single (cold) water lineSingle Water line
Different types include compression, disc, ball, and cartridge faucetsDifferent types based on valve type: i.e. Hose bib spigots, yard hydrantsLever Based

Final Words

Even though it may seem unimportant, understanding the distinction between spigot, faucet, and tap is important for making accurate references. 

When you as a homeowner utilize the terminology appropriately for the plumber, it just shows that you are aware of what you want.

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