What's the difference between "cabinet" and "cupboard"?

  • 5
    In the UK you would place government ministers in a cabinet but not a cupboard. :) – glenatron Nov 23 '10 at 12:43
  • 1
    I kind of expected this joke to show up here – brilliant Nov 23 '10 at 17:00

A cupboard is a closed piece of furniture with one or more doors and possibly shelves. A cabinet is more like a closet, and might be built into a wall or a separate piece of furniture. Cabinets are typically considered general-purpose storage, while cupboards are more for food and dishes. The two are somewhat interchangeable, and you might say that a cupboard is a type of cabinet.

  • 7
    +1, in other words, a cupboard is a cabinet for kitchen-related use – nohat Nov 22 '10 at 23:29
  • Yeah, what he said. – Jon Purdy Nov 22 '10 at 23:37
  • 3
    Perhaps there are regional variations, as I'd say that a cupboard is the more general-purpose receptacle, whereas a cabinet is more specific (e.g. medicine cabinet). – Steve Melnikoff Nov 23 '10 at 10:01

In British English, a cupboard can be what Americans would call a 'closet'. See: cupboards and closets.


A cupboard would be a cabinet with shelving where you would place cups plates and bowls. Where as a cabinet would have shelves but would be used for other items and in a kitchen is usually located below the counter tops. Also a cabinet would be used in other places in a home besides the kitchen for storing other items.

  • 1
    Hi and welcome to ELU. Citing a reference to support your position would make this a better answer. Otherwise this can be seen as just your opinion, and The SE model is to give answers with some kind of authoritative reference. Since you're here, please have a look at the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. – anongoodnurse Dec 29 '14 at 2:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.