English Vocabulary

Telepone box or telephone booth ?

In my last lesson today, "Jean Gets Lost in San Francisco (Scene 1)", I was asked which word Polly uses -in the audio- for to correct Jean who speak about a "telephone cabine". I thought to hear "telephone box". But beeing a little unsure, I had a look in my Harrap's French-English dictionary, that confirmed me: "cabine téléphonique; (tele)phone box, esp Am call box". Beside this dictionary doesn't give any other term for "cabine téléphonique".
So I was a bit surprised when I read in my correction that my word, box, was noted like incorrect, and in place the word "booth" like the right one. I never saw this term "booth" before, and going back to the same dictionary, I found out it's translated "baraque, tente (de marché)", and, indeed: "Tel cabine". (+ polling booth; "isoloir").
After this I checked on the Merriam-Webster, and indeed I found to booth: : 1) a small enclosure affording privacy for one person at a time <a telephone booth>, when ther's any telephone in the definitions for "box". So, I guess I had to conclude me and my dictionary were wrong on this (very little) question (and so I burnt it :-)


  • What did you burn, Balaen? If you burnt your precious dictionary, for sure you were yourself burnt-out.

    I sent a mail to acquaintances in USA, Canada and Wales asking which of the expressions "telephone booth, telephone box or telephone kiosk" was the common one in their everyday speech.
    In USA and Canada they say telephone booth.
    In Wales they rather say a phone-box but everyone does understand the three words.

    From Answers.com "The red telephone box, a public telephone kiosk designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, is a familiar sight on the streets of the United Kingdom, Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar, and despite a reduction in their numbers in recent years, red boxes can still be seen in many places and current or ex-British Colonies around the world. The colour red was chosen to make them easy to spot." Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was a famous British architect.

    But with just about everyone on the planet having a cell-phone nowadays (cell-phone, or mobile, or GSM, or other blackberries), I'm pretty sure telephone-booths will become a thing of the past. An antique thing to decorate one's large living-room. Suppose the unique, red-colored British ones will bring a hefty price. See ya at Christie's.
  • Just got on Skype another call from Wales. They say all three words are equally used.
    "Is there a kiosk call-box around here?"
  • Hello dear colleague student and neighbor,
    (indeed Gee I read you're a wallon like me).

    "Grand merci" for your nice and deep research about this little innocent word I was asking about. And for your very complete answers. I am as much flattered that I could check your English level is much higher than mine ;-)

    So I was not completely wrong when I put "telephone box" in place of "telephone booth" in the test, even if it's actually the last word that is used in the dialogue. But difference to hear is subtle, as much as you recognize only the word you know, of course. Well at least I learned a (completely useless) new word :-) And you learned me another one, since I couldn't imagine the French "kioske" is also used for these urban "furniture".

    Have a nice week end...

    Btw I also thought like you that phone boxes, boothes or kioskes, all of them, are going to become historical monuments, deserving may be the same protection than other ones... at least the Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's ones you refered to. :-)
  • While we are at it (telephones), do you know what a WAP is?

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