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What's the difference between "cabinet" and "cupboard"?

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In the UK you would place government ministers in a cabinet but not a cupboard. :) –  glenatron Nov 23 '10 at 12:43
I kind of expected this joke to show up here –  brilliant Nov 23 '10 at 17:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

A cupboard is a closed piece of furniture with one or more doors and possibly shelves. A cabinet is more like a closet, and might be built into a wall or a separate piece of furniture. Cabinets are typically considered general-purpose storage, while cupboards are more for food and dishes. The two are somewhat interchangeable, and you might say that a cupboard is a type of cabinet.

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+1, in other words, a cupboard is a cabinet for kitchen-related use –  nohat Nov 22 '10 at 23:29
Yeah, what he said. –  Jon Purdy Nov 22 '10 at 23:37
Perhaps there are regional variations, as I'd say that a cupboard is the more general-purpose receptacle, whereas a cabinet is more specific (e.g. medicine cabinet). –  Steve Melnikoff Nov 23 '10 at 10:01
Thanks to everyone for the answers. –  brilliant Nov 23 '10 at 10:55

In British English, a cupboard can be what Americans would call a 'closet'. See: cupboards and closets.

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WOW!!! Thanks for this link! –  brilliant Nov 24 '10 at 1:54

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