In AE, do the terms "home appliances", "household appliances", and "domestic appliances" mean just about the same, or is there a subtle difference to these?

You might want to consider this Ngram for this.

Also, do "white goods/wares" and 'brown goods/wares" have any currency among AE speakers? Or, are these merely marketing terms found usually on directories in emporiums, malls, and department stores?

  • There are no exact synonyms. If there are two words that seem to be the same, but are spelled or pronounced differently, then there will be some instances where one is preferred over the other. That said, if I wanted to buy a dishwasher, I would go the area called household appliances, not housewares, because I'd think the latter would mean the dishes themselves. – Mitch Mar 3 '14 at 13:56
  • Also, 'domesticals' is not an AmE word (I don't recognize it). Also, white/brown goods/wares' is unknown to me. – Mitch Mar 3 '14 at 13:57
  • @Mitch Well, I got the meaning all mixed up om "housewares". Obviously I would've been better advised to first check back the definition before posting the question. Anyways, it's all fixed up now. ;) – Elian Mar 3 '14 at 15:08

The terms home appliances and household appliances are in common usage in the US to refer to large appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, etc. As you show in the ngram, domestic appliances is much less common and would probably be considered old fashioned by most native speakers.

Further, the term major appliances is often used to distinguish large (and large ticketed) items, such as refrigerators, from smaller, countertop type appliances, such as toaster ovens and vacuum cleaners.

Housewares means something else. It refers to the much broader category of items that furnish, clean and maintain homes. Consider this list of subcategories from a major retailer that appear based on a search of their website for housewares:

  • Bed & Bath
  • Dining & Entertaining
  • Furniture
  • Kitchen
  • Luggage
  • Mattresses
  • Cleaning & Organizing
  • Gadgets
  • Heaters & Fans
  • Home Decor
  • Irons & Garment Care
  • Kids' & Baby Home
  • Lighting & Lamps
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Personal Care
  • Rugs
  • Slipcovers
  • Summer Entertaining
  • Vacuums & Steam Cleaners
  • Window Treatments

While white goods and brown goods are used in trade circles and business analytics, they are not terms generally used by the average consumer or by sellers in their advertising. Ironically, most white goods are now more often finished in stainless steel than white enamel, and most brown goods are black or metallic finished.

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  • Interesting, I never knew that about white and brown. – Mitch Mar 3 '14 at 16:21
  • @Mitch The term white goods for major appliances is also used by our local dump to describe the deposits they charge extra for. – bib Mar 3 '14 at 16:50
  • This is a good answer. When I think of housewares I think utensils, plates, pans, and mainly kitchen stuff. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 8 '14 at 23:06

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