Water well buckets
Water well buckets
An Edo period Japanese bucket used to hold water for fire fighting
An Edo period Japanese bucket used to hold water for fire fighting

A bucket is typically a watertight, vertical cylinder or truncated cone or square, with an open top and a flat bottom, attached to a semicircular carrying handle called the bail.[1][2]

A bucket is usually an open-top container. In contrast, a pail can have a top or lid and is a shipping container. In common usage, the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Types and uses

A number of bucket types exist, used for a variety of purposes. Though most of these are functional purposes, a number, including those constructed from precious metals, are used for ceremonial purposes. Common types of bucket and their adjoining purposes include:

Though not always bucket shaped, lunch boxes are sometimes known as lunch pails or a lunch bucket. Buckets can be repurposed as seats, tool caddies, hydroponic gardens, chamber pots, "street" drums, or livestock feeders, amongst other uses. Buckets are also repurposed for the use of long term food storage by survivalists.[3]

Shipping containers

Main article: pail (container)

When in reference to a shipping container, the term "pail" is used as a technical term, specifically referring to a bucket shaped package with a sealed top or lid, which is then used as a transport container for chemicals and industrial products.[4]


English language phrases and idioms

The bucket has been used in many phrases and idioms in the English language,[5] some of which are regional or specific to the use of English in different English-speaking countries.

Unit of measurement

As an obsolete unit of measurement, at least one source documents a 'bucket' as being equivalent to 4 imperial gallons (18 l; 4.8 US gal).[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Bucket". Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 9 September 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  2. ^ Flexner, Stuart; Hauck, epmpre, eds. (1993) [1987]. Random House Unabridged Dictionary p (hardcover) (second ed.). New York: Random House. p. 271. ISBN 0-679-42917-4.
  3. ^ Durado, John (22 February 2017). "Gamma Lids for Long Term Storage". Pyramid Reviews - Prepping for Life. Archived from the original on 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  4. ^ Soroka, W. Illustrated Glossary of Packaging Terminology (Second ed.). Institute of Packaging Professionals. Archived from the original on 2011-01-29.
  5. ^ Klein, Herbert Arthur (3 December 2012). The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey. ISBN 9780486144979. Retrieved May 23, 2018.