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I recently heard the word "netting" in a conversation with an Englishman. Then looked it up to figure out what makes it different to "net". These are the two definitions I got from the Oxford dictionary:

netting: material that is made of string, thread or wire twisted or tied together, with spaces in between

net: a type of material that is made of string, thread or wire twisted or tied together, with small spaces in between

A search on the internet didn't help much. What is the difference (if any) between these two words?

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    You can cast the net. You can't cast the netting. – Ricky Nov 20 '15 at 12:04
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    I would suggest that a net is a device e.g. fishing net, hairnet etc. which is usually made from a type of material which might be called netting. – WS2 Nov 20 '15 at 12:05
  • A net is made of netting. – Hot Licks Nov 20 '15 at 13:08
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    Not sure where you got those definitions, but they aren't what my Oxford says. "net: a type of material …" is very misleading. A net is not a "type" of material at all: it's an object characteristic of a particular configuration of material, so to speak. A net is a specific kind of object, while netting any kind of intertwined materials that form a kind of net-like structure. – ralph.m Nov 20 '15 at 13:26
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Consider this crude picture I whipped up:

enter image description here

The material making the red part is probably some form of rigid metal wire, or maybe a modern composite. The material in the blue part could be wood, metal, plastic, or again a composite. The material in the black part can be called either net or netting.

The entire device is called a net. Specifically, this drawing depicts a butterfly net. If anyone called it a butterfly netting, I would think it very strange.

In your own sources, notice that "netting" has only one definition, beginning with "material" whereas "net" has multiple definitions- this first refers to material again, but the second talks about the "piece" put to a specific purpose. Here is another dictionary giving very similar results.

Similarly, wikipedia has seperate pages for net (device) and net (textile) where only the latter mentions it can also be called netting.

Note: I have assumed you only care about the use of the two words as nouns. As verbs, then of course "netting" is the participle of "to net."

  • You could also compare this to mosquito netting, which is a fine mesh material designed to block out mosquitoes. The use of netting describes the material itself. If you were to refer to a mosquito net, you'd be talking about some apparatus to hang the netting around a bed or some such. – Nuclear Wang Nov 20 '15 at 14:52

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