‘Pedicure' vs 'Manicure': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on June 3, 2023

If you plan to go to a nail salon, you need to know the difference between 'pedicure' and 'manicure.' Otherwise, you may ask for the wrong service. Do not worry, though. When you finish reading this guide, you will be an expert.

Are you looking for a quick answer?

If so, here it is: 

  • A 'pedicure' is a treatment to care for the feet, which usually includes removing dead skin, trimming cuticles, and cutting and filing the toenails. 
  • A 'manicure' is a treatment provided by salons to care for the hands that usually includes a brief massage, nail trimming, cuticle maintenance, removing old polish, and repainting the nails. 

So, 'pedicures' focus on the feet, while 'manicures' are for your hands. Keep reading to learn more!

What is the Difference Between 'Pedicure' vs. 'Manicure?'

If you visit a nail shop, you will see people getting 'manicures' and 'pedicures.' They are nouns for services provided to care for your nails, feet, or hands.

  • The first term is for treating your feet, and the latter is for your hands.

You can tell the first term is for feet because it contains the pedi or ped suffix, which means foot, like:

  • Pediatrist
  • Pedestal
  • Pedometer
  • Pedestrian
  • Pedal

The latter starts with mani, which means hand or at hand, for example:

  • Manipulate
  • Manicotti
  • Manifold
  • Manifesto

And both contain the root word cure, which means care or take care. So, these terms translate to taking care of feet and hands.

Both services typically include:

  • Removal of dead skin and exfoliation
  • Removal of old nail polish
  • Cutting and filing the nails
  • Pushing back or trimming of cuticles
  • Massage
  • Moisturization
  • Hot paraffin wax
  • Nail painting

When to Use 'Pedicure' vs. 'Manicure'

You know that a 'pedicure' is a service to care for your feet, and a 'manicure' provides the same for your hands. However, people do not only use these terms in salons.

So, how do you know when to use 'pedicure' vs. 'manicure?'

  • Use 'manicure' when filing, trimming, or painting your fingernails.

For example, you could say:

After all of the housework I've done, I need to give myself a manicure. My nail polish is chipped, and my nails are jagged. 

  • Use 'manicure' if you are performing a hand or fingernail treatment.

For example, I might tell someone:

I will send you the link in 30 to 45 minutes. I have a hand mask on, but I will email it to you as soon as I finish my manicure. 

  • Use 'pedicure' when caring for your feet, trimming your toenails, and exfoliating.

For example, someone might tell you:

I remove my toenail polish every Tuesday, file my nails, and repaint them. It isn't much, but I can't live without my weekly mini pedicure.

  • Use 'pedicure' to describe your toenail and foot care routine.

For example, you might say:

You need to make pedicures part of your weekly beauty routine to have nice feet. 

Definition of 'Pedicure': What Does 'Pedicure' Mean?

Pedicure is a noun that, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means:

  • A person who does foot care treatments.

It can also mean:

  • A foot care service
  • A foot care routine
  • A single foot treatment, like a foot mask or trim

Definition of 'Manicure': What Does 'Manicure' Mean?

It also defines 'manicure' as:

  • A hand care service

It can also mean:

  • Someone who does manicures

As a verb, 'manicure' means:

  • To perform a hand or nailcare treatment
  • To groom something meticulously
  • To trim or shape something other than hands (i.e., manicured lawn)

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Pedicure' vs. 'Manicure'

Now, let's move on to pronunciation. You can know what words mean and how to use them, but if you are not confident in your pronunciation, you will likely hesitate to use them.

So, here is a brief pronunciation guide:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'pedicure':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'manicure':


Sample Sentences Using 'Pedicure' and 'Manicure'

Finally, read through the sample sentences below to ensure you understand how to use 'pedicure' vs. 'manicure.'


  • Getting regular pedicures is more than a luxury, and it is actually beneficial to your health.
  • Experts suggest that you should get bi-weekly pedicures to maintain the health of your feet and nails.
  • If you prefer not to go to a salon, you can do a pedicure at home by exfoliating your feet and using a salt rock or stone to scrub off dead skin.
  • You can buy an inexpensive footbath to soak your feet in during your in-home pedicures.
  • It is critical that you get your pedicures at a clean, licensed salon and pedicurist. You can pick up a nasty fungal infection if the technician uses unsanitized tools.


  • Do you have a manicurist? I have been going to the same lady for 15 years, and I hate having anyone else do my manicures.
  • There are numerous benefits to getting manicures a few times per month.
  • Manicures help to strengthen your nails and prevent ingrown nails.
  • I used to get gel manicures, but they damaged my fingernails. Now, I just get a plain manicure with polish.
  • Since I started manicuring my natural nails, they have gotten a lot stronger and longer.
  • For my birthday, please get me a gift card for the salon down the street. I would love to get a manicure.


  • My best friend and I have been going to the same salon to get manicures and pedicures for years but now. We never needed an appointment before, but now they want us to call ahead.
  • In my opinion, manicures are not as important as pedicures.
  • Giving yourself manicures and pedicures at home is essential if you do not visit a salon.
  • Nail salons are a dime a dozen in this town, but I know one that has an impeccable reputation.

The Last Word on 'Pedicure' vs. 'Manicure'

Hopefully, you are clear on the difference between 'pedicure' vs. 'manicure,' but here is a quick recap: 

  • 'Manicure' and 'Pedicure' are names of services offered at salons. 
  • A 'pedicure' is a service that takes care of your feet and toenails. 
  • A 'manicure' focuses on your hands and fingernails. 

To learn about other commonly misused, misspelled, and mistaken words, check out the other guides in the confusing words section here.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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