What’s a hosepipe?

If you live in the UK you’re probably thinking this is a pretty silly question, but you’d be surprised how often we get asked this by our international visitors. So here’s my definition:

Hosepipe is usually and correctly written as one word, although it’s obviously acceptable to use two words – hose pipe. Hosepipe in fact comes from the word hose which is a flexible tube used for conveying water. Such a device would often be used for watering a garden or perhaps spraying water onto a car, by connecting it to a running tap (faucet).

I don’t know when and why the word pipe was added to hose – can anyone help on this? – but I imagine it was just a natural evolution to join the two together that eventually became part of the common language.

So that’s my take on it. Feel free to offer your definition in the comments box below. Speaking to people from abroad we’ve been offered these localisations for the word hosepipe:

A visitor from California in the US told us they would call it a garden hose or simply hose. Both would be perfectly acceptable and understandable in the UK. The same visitor told us that a hosepipe ban would simply be described as “water restrictions during a drought”, which indicates to me that Californians perhaps have more sensible rules in place during dry spells!

So what’s a hosepipe/hosepipe ban called where you live? Use the comments box below to let us know.

Last updated: 26/04/07

2 replies on “What’s a hosepipe?”

Thanks for your comment Martin.

Yes, hose is still used to describe various leg coverings I believe and I imagine would have been derived from the German word hosen. This leads me (for some reason) to consider the term ‘drain pipes’ which obviously describe pipes that drain water, but was also used to describe a once fashionable style of trousers.

Hose, used to have many meanings, including ‘trousers’. So without the clarification of ‘pipe’, we’d have had a little confusion from naturalists, amongst others…

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