Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between a Lavatory and a Sink

Lavatory vs Sink

“Lavatory” and “sink” are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, a lavatory and a sink are not similar things. At least, they have minute differences. We have always thought that anything that has a wash basin in either our kitchen, bathroom, or a toilet is already called a lavatory or a sink. In this article, let us find out the differences between them.

First, let us discuss where these terms came from. The etymology of “lavatory” and “sink” differ in their historic origins. Back then, the term “lavatory” was used to refer to a wash basin for the purposes of washing your hands and face. However, during 1924, the term “lavatory” became synonymous with the act of using a bathroom or its extension, the toilet. On the other hand, the term “sink” was used to refer to a built-in, shallow basin which is then attached to a drainage pipe. Whenever you wash something at the sink, the used water will flow directly down the drainage pipe. The usage of the term “sink” had begun during the 1560s. The sink was also referred to as the “shallow waste pit.”

However, the usage of the terms of “lavatory” and “sink” are different today. If during the past the term “lavatory” referred to the wash basins, today in the United States, the people use the term “sink” in referring to wash basins which are located in their bathrooms and kitchens. On the other hand, the people from the United States use the term “lavatory” instead of “sink” when referring to the “toilet.”

Now, let us discuss the specific purposes of a lavatory and a sink. A lavatory is used to wash people. Since a lavatory may refer to a toilet and a bathroom, we often take a bath cleaning ourselves. We also wash our hands and brush our teeth. A lavatory is also used to refer to facilities in our homes in which we excrete our urine and waste. On the other hand, a sink is often used to wash things. For example, in our kitchen sink, we wash our dishes and our produce. But we also often wash our hands in a kitchen sink. A sink is important in every bathroom as well as the toilet.

Lavatories and sinks are also made from similar materials. They can be made with porcelain, steel, and other types of materials. Others take pride in the style of their lavatories and sinks because they can also serve as home decors aside from their usual purposes. Several styles and designs are available when you want to construct your own lavatory and sink. Where there are sinks, there are also cabinets wherein you put your plates, glasses, other eating and cooking utensils.

Since the origin of the usage of the terms “lavatory” and “sink” were interchanged, it is no wonder that people are using them interchangeably as of today. However, if you don’t want to be misunderstood by others, it is safer to use the terms “lavatory” and “sink” in their modern usage.


  1. During the past, the term “lavatory” was used to refer to wash basins while the term “sink” was used to refer to a shallow waste pit.

  2. As of today, the term “lavatory” refers to facilities that allow us to excrete our urine and waste such as the toilet. And the term “sink” is used to refer to wash basins.

  3. Lavatories and sinks can be made from porcelain and steel.

  4. As for the purpose of a lavatory, it is commonly used for the washing of our bodies. As for the purpose of a sink, it is commonly used for the washing of things.

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