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Thread: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Shrug Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    It might sound silly, but what is the difference between a flashlight and a torch?

    I have used these things for 40 years mainly in my work as an Electrician and I still am not sure of the correct terminology.

    I have quite a few of these lights in all different sizes and shapes.

    A torch could be like the Olympic Torch with a flame.

    I have seen the term FLASHAHOLIC but never TORCHAHOLIC.

    The history of how a flashlight got its name still eludes me.

    When do you use each name or are they one and the same?
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Which term one uses depends on more where your from mainly.

    Kinda like how Australians may have there own English terms for many things.
    Last edited by Flashfirstask?later; 10-01-2010 at 11:04 PM.

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    trunk = boot

    elevator = lift

    flashlight = torch

    color = colour



    _

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* M@elstrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    My understanding was flashlight was a term predominantly associated with the Americas whilst the rest of the world simply called them torches
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    Flashaholic* Belstaff1464's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Torches are generally speaking not a directional light source (think Olympic torch) where as a flashlight is. You hold a torch above your head to provide 360degrees of light, like a lantern. A flashlight you have to aim at your target.

    That's my take on their difference....
    Last edited by Belstaff1464; 10-01-2010 at 11:31 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    i've always associated a torch with something on fire at the end of a stick..and i've always thought of a boot as something you put on your foot..different cultures across the oceans I guess..

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* DimeRazorback's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess View Post
    trunk = boot

    elevator = lift

    flashlight = torch

    color = colour



    _




    Spot on mate!

    ^^Click for my beamshots!!^^ My Flashlights

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Belstaff1464's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by pounder View Post
    i've always associated a torch with something on fire at the end of a stick...

    Yep.....that's where it comes.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess View Post
    trunk = boot

    elevator = lift

    flashlight = torch

    color = colour



    _

    I was expecting a very detailed lengthy reply saying that I was stupid for not knowing why they were different.

    I just thought that there would be some differences between the two as in Boats and Ships.

    People get funny when you use the wrong name, but to most people there is no difference but to Marine enthusiasts there is a big difference.

    In marine terms there is a large variation in things that float on water as in Dinghy, Runabout, Cutter, Cruiser and Ocean Liner.

    Mariners usually correct the unenlightened pretty quickly.

    Ok, with the amount of posts you have put up I would say you are probably on the money.

    So there is no distinction between Torch and Flashlight at all.

    BUT, there are probably types of Torches / Flashlights as in Lanterns, Headlights and Searchlights.

    Then again isn't any light capable of Searching for something?

    Just how big does a Searchlight have to be before it is officially a Searchlight?

    When I take the head off one of my torches and tailstand it on a table in a room isn't this then a Lantern that is diffusing light all around and probably bouncing off the ceiling?

    I am lost now!!

    Last edited by Oztorchfreak; 10-01-2010 at 11:49 PM.
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  10. #10
    Enlightened The Light!'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    I've always thought that flashlights refer to the said battery-operated lighting sticks, while torches can refer to those OR the traditional fire on a twig depending on the context. Flashlights and torches basically mean the same thing in the modern world, it depends if you're influenced by American or English culture and vocab... It's a bit like the whole 'organize'/'organise' controversy if you like.

    As for searchlights, I associate the word with lights that aren't handheld (they have to be mounted on a car/truck/helicopter/whatever) whilst those that have the same amount of power and are handheld are spotlights.

    Anyway, that's just my 2 cents on the topic...
    Last edited by The Light!; 10-02-2010 at 12:36 AM.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* M@elstrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Whilst it was an Englishman in New York (pun intended) named David Misell who invented the tubular battery fed lighting device it was actually Conrad Hubert (founder of Eveready) who actually chose to call it a flashlight.


    A nice detailed write up by DONOTDELETE on this subject can be found HERE
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    Flashaholic MojaveMoon07's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    [wrong thread; sorry]
    Last edited by MojaveMoon07; 10-02-2010 at 04:29 AM.

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    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    A torch is what you carry when storming Dr. Frankenstein's castle. Also useful lighting cigars.

    Geoff

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    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    The majority of people in Australia would say torch.

    I can't remember anytime that I heard somebody especially in my days as a Maintenance Electrician for over 30 years say "get me a flashlight".

    Do you guys ever refer to flashlights as torches in the US?
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    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    I'm guessing its the same between thermionic valves and vacuum tubes...
    ones more descriptive and the other is more for reference.

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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    By definition, all flashlights are torches but all torches are not flashlights, no ?

  17. #17
    Flashaholic Ozgeardo's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Being an Aussie who has spent quite a lot of time Stateside and also working with lots of "Septics" over the years I have managed to get quite a good hold on the differences in our versions of the English language.

    Firstly Aussies can call someone a "filthy bugger" or "an old bastard" and these are actually terms of endearment just like calling a Yank a "Septic" (A quaint Aussie piece of the vernacular with rhyming slang that refers to Yanks as "Septic Tanks").

    I was judging a some car shows in Ohio and got the "mickey" when I asked owners to open their "Boots & Bonnets" (Trunks & Hoods), I had people taking their shoes and hats off!

    But to keep this story about illumination devices (how's that for walking in the middle of the road) why is it that according to many of our beloved members in the States many of our toys are made of a-loom-in-um but for those of us from the antipodes our toys are made of al-u-min-i-um.

    I find it quite refreshing dealing with the different spins on the English Language, even the difference between Aussie and Kiwi (NZ) can be very entertaining

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Belstaff1464's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tally-ho View Post
    By definition, all flashlights are torches but all torches are not flashlights, no ?

    Ummm........no


    Torches are non-directional sources of light, i.e. provide 360deg of light like the open flame torches that could be a lit oily rag wrapped around a stick. Flashlights are a directional electrical illumination device so it's different to a torch. A torch is more like a lantern. A flashlight can be turned to a torch with the aid of diffuser wands and other adapters (e.g. the SureFire camping adapter thingy).

    My $0.02
    Last edited by Belstaff1464; 10-02-2010 at 07:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess View Post
    trunk = boot

    elevator = lift

    flashlight = torch

    color = colour



    _
    Eraser = Rubber
    Rubber = Condom

    Therefore Eraser = Condom ..... I think !
    .

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Christo Pull Hair Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    I am more confused than I was when I first started this thread.

    I have looked at Wikipedia and other resources but it is still bewildering.

    You say TEMAYTOES

    I say TOMARTOES

    This is spinning me out!!
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Torches drive on the left?

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    Torches drive on the left?

    You guys have a good sense of HUMOUR or is that HUMOR over there.

    I know what you guys are getting at with different countries.
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  23. #23
    Flashaholic* 45/70's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    This thread reminds me of something funny. I spent a good part of my life, particularly my younger years, in Northern Ontario. One time we were eating at some friends, and my Mom asked if she could have another napkin (as in something to wipe your hands on). Marge, the Canadian who's house we were having lunch at laughed. She knew what my Mom meant, but explained that their use of the word "napkin" meant a baby diaper. Up there they call these cloths (or paper) used for wiping your hands and such, a "serviette". I think this is a British name, as well, but is obviously French in origin. You other English speaking guys can correct me on that, if I'm wrong.

    As far as flashlight vs. torch, I'm pretty sure it's just where you're from. In Northern Ontario (Canada), they call them flashlights, as do we here in Ohio, and as far as I know, in all of the U.S. If I asked a non flashaholic where I live, for a "torch", they'd give me an odd stare and would have no idea what I was talking about.

    Dave

  24. #24

    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    'Flashlight' for Americans and 'Torch' for the rest of the world. It is down to variations in the English language, there is no difference.

    I have never heard anyone in the UK say 'flashlight', always 'torch'.

    I do think 'flashlight' is the better name though! Just sounds better IMO

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* Belstaff1464's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bass View Post
    'Flashlight' for Americans and 'Torch' for the rest of the world. It is down to variations in the English language, there is no difference.

    I have never heard anyone in the UK say 'flashlight', always 'torch'.

    I do think 'flashlight' is the better name though! Just sounds better IMO

    Flashlight and torch are different and not meant to be interchangeable. However, their definition have started to blend together in the modern lexicon

    Definition of torch from dictionary.com:

    1.
    a light to be carried in the hand, consisting of some combustible substance, as resinous wood, or of twisted flax or the like soaked with tallow or other flammable substance, ignited at the upper end.
    2. something considered as a source of illumination, enlightenment, guidance, etc.: the torch of learning.

    3. any of various lamplike devices that produce a hot flame and are used for soldering, burning off paint, etc.


    And definition of flashlight is:

    1. Also called, especially British , torch. a small, portable electric lamp powered by dry batteries or a tiny generator.
    2. a light that flashes, as a lighthouse beacon.

    3. any source of artificial light as used in flash photography


    You wouldn't call the flame they pass around for the Olympics the Olympic Flashlight, would you ? No, It's the Olympic Torch.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    I have never heard an American use the term 'torch' to describe any sort of electricaly powered light source. It seems to me that use of the word 'torch' to describe an handheld lighting instrument is un-American.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bass View Post
    'Flashlight' for Americans and 'Torch' for the rest of the world. It is down to variations in the English language, there is no difference.

    I have never heard anyone in the UK say 'flashlight', always 'torch'.

    I do think 'flashlight' is the better name though! Just sounds better IMO

    Hold your horses here.

    Why are flashlights the better terminology?

    Thems fighting words!!

    I am just winding/stirring/geeing you up now.

    Or is that called something else over there in the Good Old US of A or England?

    Aren't you in love with someone if you are "HOLDING A TORCH FOR THEM"?

    Being an Electrician, holding a torch for myself or anybody else is just plain boring and my muscles get sore sooner or later!!
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  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Oztorchfreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    When I am talking on CPF I always refer to Flashlights as Torches.

    Now I wonder why someone from the USA has never said anything about what Ozzies, Europeans or Pommies are using in reference to these portable things that make light using electricity.

    Do we all look silly to the US or are you guys just used to hearing us talk this way.

    Thanks for the very good posts in this thread outlining the differences or lack of differences between the two (or maybe just one) items in question.

    If I now change to flashlight (which will be hard to do) will others wonder why a guy from Australia is using this YANKIE terminology?

    I am really getting confused now!!!
    Last edited by Oztorchfreak; 10-02-2010 at 09:31 AM.
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belstaff1464 View Post
    Flashlight and torch are different and not meant to be interchangeable. However, their definition have started to blend together in the modern lexicon

    Definition of torch from dictionary.com:
    It is interesting to see that you are providing the source that is the more convenient with your point of view.

    Definition
    flashlight noun /ˈflæʃ.laɪt/ [C]
    US for torch (= a small light that you can carry with you)


    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...ish/flashlight
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...ritish/torch_1
    and
    http://www.macmillandictionary.com/t.../torch#torch_4
    http://www.macmillandictionary.com/d...ish/flashlight

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Difference between a Flashlight and a Torch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oztorchfreak View Post
    Ok, with the amount of posts you have put up I would say you are probably on the money.

    So there is no distinction between Torch and Flashlight at all.
    In the US, Flashlight describes a directional hand-held light source and torch usually implies combustion (e.g. "welding torch"). No such distinction is made in Great Britain.


    Other sub-categories of lights that seem to have consensus meaning:

    Headlamp: (usually small) light that can be strapped to a head/helmet/limb/whatever to allow hands-free use

    Headlight: the brightest lights on the front of a car/truck

    Spotlight or Searchlight: a light that projects a useful hotspot a relatively long distance. Usually has no or minimal spill.

    Lamp/Lantern: light designed for local area lighting (evenly lights some amount of area in front of or around it). Confusingly, a light might also be called a lamp or lantern if the handle is on the top of the device (even if it is directional). This second meaning seems to be a generational thing used by people alive before, say, 1950 or so. As they die off, I expect this usage to disappear with them.

    There are probably more that I'm forgetting.

    --flatline

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