I have read the following example online:

The journey there took three hours. (correct)
(A) The trip took three hours (wrong)

All dictionaries defined a trip as a short distance travel while journey it takes a lot time to achieve, i.e. to travel for a distant area by a vehicle. This already is understood and no question to ask more but I had this example:

(B) We went on a three-week trip to Scotland.

Now my question is:
Why do they limit the use of the term (trip) to be for a short-time travel as in A sentence, then it is for three-week tip to _______ as in B?

Here apparently confusion will occur not only to a non-native speaker but to the native speaker as well. I wonder how this duality in English language! I fear and wary off! This is a mistake, the very error to deal with

"A trip to Scotland lasts three weeks" is (correct) but to say:
"The trip took three hours" (wrong)!

Another question:
Does the trip in the sentence

We went in three-week trip to Scotland

mean going and returning home?

  • Really I feel bad about what I have read in internet as the set above-examples which rather make confusing and doubt. – Mohammad Ahmad Jun 6 '17 at 11:17
  • A trip is hopping on a plane and being there in three hours. A journey is traveling by car with three kids and a dog and spending more time getting there than you spend at the destination. – Hot Licks Jun 6 '17 at 11:58
  • There's an old saying -- ""Life is a journey, not a destination". – Hot Licks Jun 6 '17 at 12:31
  • Think of "three-week trip" meaning the same as a holiday/vacation. "We went on a fantastic week-long trip/holiday" A journey is mentioned to talk about the time and distance it takes to arrive at a particular destination. – Mari-Lou A Jun 6 '17 at 12:38
  • I don't want to delve into the ins and outs of the research you did -- although I'm glad you did it. I just want to help you get a better handle on these closely related words. Trip works for pretty much anything, even "a trip to the moon and back"! But journey is a less casual term. You could use it more formal speech, and you could use it if you want to express some sense of adventure or discovery. Imagine an x-axis with trip over on the left end, odyssey way over on the right end, and journey slightly to the right of the middle. – aparente001 Jun 7 '17 at 5:51

In this usage a 'trip' isn't a 'short journey', but an excursion. While the OED gives Trip (The link is only available if you have and OED Log-in. Members of most British Public Libraries should be able to log in if they have a Library Card number.)

b. A short journey or run on land; esp. each of a series of journeys or runs over a particular route.

it also gives

A short journey (by sea or land) for pleasure or health, an excursion (more fully pleasure trip); in later use often applied to such a journey whatever its length. Also applied to a passage by rail provided at a fare lower than the usual; a cheap trip, an excursion; occas. short for ‘party of trippers’ or ‘trip-train’.

So a trip can be a short journey,

a quick trip to the shop

or is can be a long one

a round-the-world trip

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  • I know all that, but believe me no word or phrases in English stands against me as a stumbling block but only this. I am translator and of course all terms ( tip, flight, journey as well voyage which by sea) all have the same Arabic term but three-week trip it makes me astonished how the three hours is not acceptable for a trip then three weeks can be ( as all would say) Trip = short journey but not a synonym. Here I understand it as the more definition I read and searched about, is to be a journey for going and returning. I know it as a holiday some would like to enjoy oneself with friends – Mohammad Ahmad Jun 6 '17 at 15:54
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    I'm sorry this didn't add to your knowledge. You have quite a fixed idea of what a 'trip' or 'journey' can be. In truth it is more fluid; distance and time are only part of the picture. Eg. a train company might use either word to indicate a single instance of travel by a passenger, while a train the passenger may be more likely to speak of his 'journey' to work, or a 'trip to the seaside' depending if they travelled for work or pleasure. 'Trip' often carries more connotation of a pleasure excursion and 'journey' of travel with more serious purpose. but there is no hard line between the two. – Spagirl Jun 6 '17 at 16:24

It's not really the distance or the length of time that is important here.

Note that trip, in the sense being referred to here, is only a noun. Whereas journey may be either a noun or a verb.

This is not an accident. In essence, a "trip" is an incident, whereas a "journey" is a process, and the implication is that this process is significant.

If you say you "took a trip to the top of Mount Everest" then you're implying that you magically got there and back, and how you got there was not that important -- you might have been asleep the whole way. But if you "journeyed to the top of Mount Everest" you are making it clear that the process of getting there was an experience (that you were awake for), and likely there are some stories you could tell.

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It may be that other regional forms of English have stricter rules on this point, but in U.S. English it is not at all uncommon to speak of (for example) a "three-week trip." In fact, a search of the Google Books database—most of whose books and articles have been professionally edited—yields more than a hundred unique matches for that particular phrase. Here are a few examples.

From Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001):

Then, almost as soon as he got back to Chartwell after this three-week trip [stopping in various parts of France], Churchill turned round and went back to Paris to deliver (in English) a much publicized lecture at the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs on the need to defend parliamentary democracy and the liberal state.

From Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford University Press, 2007):

A depressed and bitter president-elect managed to avoid the celebration that had been planned to welcome him to Washington at the end of his three-week trip from Nashville.

From Marc Leepson, Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011):

The Marquis de Lafayette's voyage back to France was not an easy one. Storms buffeted the Brandywine for a good part of the three-week trip. Lafayette, a veteran of rocky Atlantic crossings, arrived back home in good health and spirits.

From William Trimble, Admiral William A. Moffett: Architect of Naval Aviation (Naval Institute Press [Annapolis, Maryland], 2014):

Moffett initiated the selection process himself in September 1928 during a three-week trip that took him to the National Air Races in Los Angeles and on a tour of naval reserve air facilities at Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

From these instances (which come from serious publishers that are by no means slack with regard to copy editing), it seems evident that any attempt to brand the phrase "three-week trip" inherently wrong must rely on a prescription about about what is proper, rather than a description of how often and freely fluent English speakers actually use the phrase and others like it.

As for the going and/or coming home question, a trip may be one-way or round, although most people take trips from a home base that they expect to return to.

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  • So, what is the difference between the two terms? There definitely is a difference. – Hot Licks Jun 6 '17 at 22:34
  • @HotLicks: As people use the terms (in U.S. English), I think, the main difference is that trip is a much broader term, whereas journey tends to refer specifically to a long and arduous undertaking. Thus, you might take a trip—but not a journey—to your neighborhood grocery store. But the relatively narrow definition of journey doesn't mean that the two terms are largely non-overlapping, because trip can cover so many things. For instance, you can take a trip around the world, and it can be quite arduous and take a long time, just as it would if you called it a journey. – Sven Yargs Jun 6 '17 at 22:43
  • A friend of mine recently bicycled across the United States from Oakland, California, to Annapolis, Maryland. It was an arduous journey, by practically any modern-day standard—and yet everyone who talked about it before, during, and afterward called it his "bike trip across the country"—and I don't think anyone was trying to diminish the accomplishment by using that language. To the contrary, I think that everyone simply considered that wording to be the most natural way of referring to his adventure. But, of course, that doesn't mean that someone couldn't call it his "bike journey." – Sven Yargs Jun 6 '17 at 22:53
  • Certainly there are other cues as to the significance of an episode of traveling, vs actually reaching the destination. A "round-the-world trip" is generally going to be "an experience", regardless. But calling something a "journey" carries an implication that otherwise would have to be supplied by context, if "trip" were used instead. – Hot Licks Jun 6 '17 at 23:20
  • (Note that, in particular, the "trip" in your last example involved stopping at various places, and it was what he did at those stops that was of significance, vs how he got from place to place. With Lafayette's experience the journey was significant, but, I notice, "journey" is less likely to be used to describe a sea voyage vs a land trek.) – Hot Licks Jun 6 '17 at 23:26

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