What is the difference between tableware, dinnerware, servingware, and flatware?!
There are a lot of confusing terms and words when it comes to the art of setting a dinner table, but I’m here to help! Scaping By has the definitive wiki for all things that go on top of your table 😉 Since I use a lot of these terms in my tablescaping posts, I wanted to make sure you understand what I mean!
Tableware: Everything on your dining table
The word “tableware” refers to anything on top of your table. Yep, it’s that simple. This covers the everything from a plate, to a candle, to a fork, to a placemat and anything in between. Tableware is a general term used as a catch-all in the design industry.
Dinnerware: Plates, dishes & bowls
Dinnerware is a little more specific than tableware. In this case, the word refers to anything you eat off, in, or with. Now we’re narrowing the discussion to plates, dishes, bowls, and also forks, knives, and spoons. Your favorite Corelle dishes fit this description, but not your inherited crystal candlesticks, got it?
Servingware: Platters, utensils & trays
There can be some overlap between servingware and dinnerware, but in general servingware is much larger! These are the plates and platters that you pull out when you’re catering a party (at home or elsewhere). Giant salad bowls fit into this category, as well as the cutlery and utensils that you’ll need to serve your guests.
Ok, technically speaking, flatware is the opposite of hollowware. Yes, that’s an actual term. Hollowware used to refer to serving dishes or accessories that were hollow or concave in shape. And in that sense, flatware can refer to plates and saucers (you know, flat dishes) as well as forks, knives, and spoons. But over time, as hollowware disappeared from our vocabulary, cutlery came to describe utensils in general.