If you are not reading the comments you really should. This is a great one from my friend Andy.

a pail is a water tight cylindrical vessel, open at the top and fitted with a handle.

a deep, cylindrical vessel, usually of metal, plastic, or wood, with a flat bottom and a semicircular bail, for collecting, carrying, or holding water, sand, fruit.

Is would seem that both terms are interchangable. However in common usage pails tend to be smaller and the definition includes a handle. The bucket does nto require a handle.

It also seems that the term pail is used more in the North East while the rest of the country tends to jsut use the term bucket

Since people seem to interchange I am going to clarify with my own definitions which all should follow

Pail: a small cylindrical container with a flat bottom that has or once had a handle. A pail must be able to be filled with water and carried in one hand by an 8 year old boy without too much stuggle

Bucket: A cylindrical container with a flat bottom. If a handle is added to a small bucket so that when filled with sand or water a 8 year old boy can lift it with a single hand the bucket becomes a pail and ceases to be a bucket. Once the handle is attached the bucket is forever a pail even if the handle is removed. You can go from bucket to pail but not pail to bucket.

There is no upper end size limit on a bucket.”

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