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View Full Version : The word "lamps" vs. "light bulbs"


JimLewis
05-21-2012, 09:06 PM
I'm having trouble with the term "lamps". I'm taught that in the lighting industry we use that term to mean the light bulbs that we use in our fixtures. But whenever I say lamps, my customers get confused and think I'm talking about a table lamp or a street lamp post. Should I just go back to using the term "light bulb?" This is annoying. Especially in emails. People sometimes don't get what I am talking about when I say I'm going to replace their lamps or use a lamp with a different beam spread.

Zohan
05-21-2012, 09:42 PM
"fixture"..........

S&MLL
05-21-2012, 11:34 PM
I know your pain jim. Somtimes in emails i go with bulbs and lights. But in person its lamps and fixtures
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David Gretzmier
05-24-2012, 11:12 PM
I often wonder what "lamp" folks say when they replace the light bulb in their lamp at home. "hey honey, where is the lamp for the lamp? "

seriously folks- edison first invented the light bulb, not the lamp. once perfected, he needed a standard base, so he then invented the edison base for the light bulb, and then he proceeded to invent the lamp to put the thing in. look it up, he named all of it.

further, just for US english sake, if you ask in any store in the US where are the lamps, Everyone will send you to those things with LAMP shades. If you ask for light bulbs, everyone knows what you are talking about. You will be sent to those things that have wattage ratings and produce light. they may screw in or push in, but they are called light bulbs.

however, european and canadian english are different than the US. my gut is that they prefer to call lamps that go in their lamps.

starry night
05-24-2012, 11:29 PM
Now you guys have got me going. I am a long-time student of etymology -- studying the derivation of words. Here goes:

Lamp -- from the Latin word "lampas" which came from the Greek "lampas" meaning "candle or torch" and further, 'lambo', the verb "to shine."

Light -- from the Latin "lux" which was derived from the Greek "lyci" light or the dawn.

That doesn't help at all, does it?

steveparrott
05-26-2012, 01:14 PM
Now you guys have got me going. I am a long-time student of etymology -- studying the derivation of words. Here goes:

Lamp -- from the Latin word "lampas" which came from the Greek "lampas" meaning "candle or torch" and further, 'lambo', the verb "to shine."

Light -- from the Latin "lux" which was derived from the Greek "lyci" light or the dawn.

That doesn't help at all, does it?

Phil, you forgot "bulb":

1560s, "an onion," from M.Fr. bulbe, from L. bulbus "bulb, onion," from Gk. bolbos "plant with round swelling on underground stem." Expanded by 1800 to "swelling in a glass tube" (thermometer bulb, light bulb, etc.).

steveparrott
05-26-2012, 01:21 PM
I don't know when the lighting community started to use "lamp", but suspect that it began when light sources became more complex - where the glass bulb became incorporated into enclosures that contain reflectors and lenses such as with the MR-16. Also, when many light sources were no longer shaped like a bulb.

Duekster
05-26-2012, 02:08 PM
Add the descriptor, Metal Halide, Sodium and then Lamp to be most accurate without the confusion.

starry night
05-26-2012, 05:13 PM
Phil, you forgot "bulb":

1560s, "an onion," from M.Fr. bulbe, from L. bulbus "bulb, onion," from Gk. bolbos "plant with round swelling on underground stem." Expanded by 1800 to "swelling in a glass tube" (thermometer bulb, light bulb, etc.).

Steve, aha, another etymologist.