In Chinese, pubs and nightclubs are both referred to as bars and I've always assumed that would be wrong or weird in English (even in the past), but then again both establishments have a bar (as in barrier or counter) of equal importance.

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    In British English we say pub or nightclub, where there will be a bar. Dec 3, 2017 at 7:10
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    But for marketing reasons some places with a late license (i.e. they can serve alcohol after the pubs have to shut) style themselves bars, even in the UK. Nightclub requires loud music and dancing, bar doesn't (but doesn't rule them out completely).
    – Chris H
    Dec 3, 2017 at 7:32
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    I can imagine that a bar-crawling might see participants hit a nightclub
    – mplungjan
    Dec 3, 2017 at 7:39
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    Is the usage in American English the same as in British English? Dec 3, 2017 at 15:17
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    Who under the age of 60 says nightclub? While there are many kinds of clubs, there's basically just one where you'd go clubbing.
    – choster
    Dec 4, 2017 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


In the United States, "nightclubs" tend to serve alcohol and meals, and also have a dance floor. They have tables, and also a bar you can sit at." They also tend to be pricey.

"Bars" often serve both alcohol and meals, although some serve only alcohol and snacks (bagged chips, etc.). Many have tables, although some only have a bar and a very limited number of tables. They do not have a dance floor, although sometimes an area is set aside for dancing, although it is not in any way different from the rest of the bar, other than not having tables. Bars are generally more downmarket.

In the United States, most people would make a distinction between "bar" and "nightclub". (Keep in mind that hotels can have a bar or a nightclub, or even both.)

  • Even though this answer is ambiguous and vague, it is exactly correct. "Bar" and "nightclub" can be synonomous, but can also be differentiated. However, little importance is given to any distinction in everyday speech and writing.
    – Mark G B
    Dec 3, 2017 at 22:48
  • I don't think the distinction between a "nightclub" and a "bar" is nearly as sharp as you suggest. The term used is more a moral judgment than a technical distinction.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:47

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