Usually found in the bathroom. Also, in certain old films, you'd see characters dip their feet in them (they would be filled with hot water) in the winter.

  • It's a "footbath".
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 7, 2018 at 17:11
  • If it’s used for feet then it’s a “foot tub” that’s a very plain one. They are much fancier now; Do a Google search. But if you decide to use it to drain oil from your car then you might call it just a tub or basin or shallow open plastic container.
    – Jim
    Nov 7, 2018 at 17:13
  • Like Jim I’d just call it a tub. Pam’s basin isn’t used so much in the US, and when it is it’s usually reserved for deep sinks, like in laundry rooms or fancy kitchens. The kind you can bathe babies in.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 8, 2018 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


It's a basin.

From American Heritage (via TFD) a basin is:

An open, shallow, usually round container used especially for holding liquids.

In my experience, a basin doesn't only apply to the porcelain sink attached to the wall, but is also the (horrible!) plastic bowl that sits in a kitchen sink or under the sink in a bathroom.


It's a 'bowl'.

This link refers to a 'plastic mixing bowl' identical to the one above.

Traditionally a 'bowl' was more hemispherical than a 'basin' but that was in the days of earthenware and ceramics exclusively. Now that plastic predominates, the words are being used differently.

‘A [round] vessel to hold liquids, rather wide than deep; distinguished from a cup, which is rather deep than wide’ (Johnson). Usually hemispherical or nearly so. Historically, a bowl is distinguished from a basin by its more hemispherical shape; a ‘basin’ being proportionally shallower and wider, or with the margin curved outward, as in the ordinary wash-hand basin; but the actual use of the words is capricious, and varies from place to place; in particular, the ordinary small earthenware vessels, used for porridge, soup, milk, sugar, etc., which are historically bowls, and are so called in Scotland and in U.S., are always called in the south-east of England, and hence, usually in literary English, basins. The earlier usage remains in salad-bowl, finger-bowl (now also basin), punch-bowl, and the convivial or social bowl (see 1b).

OED - bowl

The Ngram 'bowl/basin' indicates that 'bowl' is more common than 'basin' in AmE whereas BrE usage is equal for both.

EDIT : The Ngram devised by @Mari-LouA. gives further information.

  • 1
    Try a short phrase like "used a bowl/basin", "filled the bowl/basin" or "placed the bowl/basin" so as to eliminate those skewed Ngram results.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 8, 2018 at 5:27
  • 1
  • Many thanks @Mari-LouA. Didn't know one could do that with Ngrams.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 8, 2018 at 14:35
  • 1
    I’ll tell you in AmE bowl is reserved for food service or sometimes ornaments (and of course more metaphorically valleys, and then you’ve got Super Bowls and so on..). But we simply do not refer to these things as bowls. That would strike us as very odd. (A common word for these things is tubs, but that’s a separate topic; I’m o my quibbling with this answer about bowls.)
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 8, 2018 at 16:18

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