English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I need to use a word in a warehouse. We need to know:

  • capacity of package?
  • type of package?
  • price, quantity in package?

However, I need to use another word to explain the material which is around the package itself (and here I have a problem, because I think the best word is, well, package).

Yet I can't use the same word for this (image of many of packages in a warehouse), and this (image of a single package).

I have to determine a unique word for each.

share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Yes, Mirinda, the actual choice of words for 'packages' is not totally logical.

Firstly, the actual material the container is made from (as in your second picture) is called packaging, but there is often a hint of the material being in the made-up form (again as in your second picture) rather than a continuous roll of corrugated cardboard, say. Though packaging could be applied to the latter also:

Packaging: 1.

a. the box or wrapping in which a product is offered for sale (Collins)

Packaging: 2. Material used for making packages. (AHDEL)

Secondly, your first picture shows stacks of what I'd usually call boxes or cartons. Wooden ones would be crates. Though technically they are packages (and certainly are 'packed' when their contents are added), this word is usually reserved (when used in a literal sense) for the smaller, often plastic- or paper-wrapped parcels one gets through the post. Parcels (not usually packages) is also used for what one gets from parents at Christmas, say.

share|improve this answer

You ask for “another word to explain the material which is around the package itself” and for unique words for, apparently, multiple boxes or cartons stacked on pallets vs a single empty box, carton, case, or crate. I don't understand the question's aim or if you want the name of a material, or a term referring to the material, or a term that means pile of boxes, or an empty box, and probably it's something else entirely, but c'est la vie.

For the material itself, it seems reasonable to refer to cardboard, corrugated or not.

For a term referring to the material a box is made of, consider casing material or wrapping (“The material in which something is wrapped”).

As a generic term for enclosures or packages that focuses on the package shell, consider encasement (“something that encases”), or casing (“That which encloses or encases”), or wrapper, or perhaps box-type.

share|improve this answer

This is a problem I many times have with the English language that you tend to ad describing words instead of giving objects a proper unique name.

In Sweden when we ship products we are required to distinguish between box and cardboard box. The reason for this I believe is that box can be of any material but since a cardboard boxes is used in more than 90% of all box packaging.

Our word in Swedish is "Kartong" but if you Google translate you get cardboard, which is wrong. Then I remember(while writing this post) seeing a abbreviation like "Cart", so I googled carton. Look and behold:


I was wrong you have a unique word for a cardboard box.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.