Is there a commonly-accepted distinction between the either power drill or electric drill and electric screwdriver, whether semantic, dialectic, sociolectic, or something else? — For myself, power drill seems most unmarked, followed by electric drill and then electric screwdriver. To me, they all mean the same thing, namely a gun-like device which accepts bits of various types, either for drilling or "screwdriving". However, there have been times (admittedly mostly by non-native speakers of English yet also by some native speakers) when I ask:

Me: Have you got a power drill?

Someone else: No, I'm sorry.

Me: (surprised) Well, I can't screw this in by hand: The material is just too hard.

Someone else: I think I might I have an electric screwdriver somewhere.

Me: (confused) Okay... thanks.

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    I don't know a huge amount about it but as far as I'm aware a power drill and an electric drill are the same thing. They can make holes (drill) and also screw screws. An electric screwdriver can not drill holes (too slow?) and is generally lighter and more compact and usually cheaper. – Michael Jan 25 '17 at 10:34
  • The "electric screwdriver" is simply a lightweight (almost always cordless) electric drill. It generally does not have to power to do any drilling, except perhaps in very soft wood. (And if the material is too hard put the screw in by hand, most electric screwdrivers are not powerful enough to do the job either.) – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 13:23
  • (I find it a little odd that many folks would confess to having an electric screwdriver but no electric drill. The typical electric screwdriver is only useful for a handful of tasks, but even cheap Harbor Freight electric drill can handle most tasks (including driving screws) with ease.) – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 16:48
  • This may be an AE distinction, but the tool that is both a power drill and an electric screwdriver is called a "drill driver" or a "drill/driver." Home Depot has an entire category for this: homedepot.com/b/Tools-Hardware-Power-Tools-Drills-Drill-Drivers/… You could buy a cordless screwdriver, but as Hot Licks said, why bother with the smaller device? – rajah9 Jan 25 '17 at 17:28
  • @rajah9 - "Drill/driver" is a Home Depotism for "wimpy drill". – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 18:03

An electric screwdriver implies the simple ability to drive lightweight screws into pre-tapped holes, without the speed and horsepower required to drill holes (or even to drive hardier, self-tapping screws into a solid wood stud) which one would find with an electric drill. A power drill probably refers to an electric drill which is corded, and runs on electricity from the wall, with even more torque.

Torque is a measurement of twisting force, and the amount of torque that a tool produces is an indicator of the tasks it's capable of accomplishing. In general, lightweight electric screwdrivers tend to use less powerful, lower voltage motors than many cordless drills, so they may not be up heavy-duty tasks such as driving long lag screws into hardwood. Cordless drills with 18-V or 20-V motors, on the other hand, can handle just about any screw-driving task.

I've used all three professionally, and am a native speaker.

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    For the most part, "power drill" and "electric drill" are interchangeable (though there are a few pneumatic or hydraulic drills around). Most carpenters would consider a decent-sized cordless drill to be a "power drill". And most carpenters would just use the term "drill" for both, since they likely don't even have a brace and bit in their toolbox in the pickup. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 13:19
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    Interestingly enough, thanks to that site, I am now aware that I don't own a power drill myself, anyway: I've actually got an impact driver... – errantlinguist Jan 25 '17 at 19:44

A power drill or electric drill (the terms are interchangeable in most contexts) has a gripping chuck to hold the bit. There are various kinds of bit, each for a specific task, many having shanks of different sections. Most drill holes but there are also screwdriver bits of various types.

If the drill has variable speed and/or torque settings the drill can be used as a screwdiver by inserting a screwdriver bit into the chuck, however most drills do not have a reverse function so they will only tighten right-handed screws and loosen left-handed ones. An electric or power screwdriver, on the other hand, has no chuck, only a socket to accept screwdriver bits. It should, however, have a reverse function and, usually, variable speed.

Electric drills and electric screwdrivers are different tools but there is some overlap in their function.

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    Most electric drills have been equipped with variable speed and reverse for 30 years or more. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 16:45
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    @HotLicks Ah, but I haven't bought one in that time! – BoldBen Jan 25 '17 at 19:40
  • I've worn out two or three in that time. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 20:17
  • @HotLicks You obviously aren't as lazy as me. – BoldBen Jan 26 '17 at 22:13

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