‘Spicket’ or ‘Spigot’: How to Spell It Correctly

By Carly Forsaith, updated on September 13, 2022

If there is a word that commonly leads to confusion, it is the word ‘spicket’ or ‘spigot.’ It seems that the use of both is pretty widespread. So which is correct?

Today we will reveal whether it’s preferable to say ‘spigot’ or ‘spicket.’

‘Spigot’ is the preferred word, but it seems that ‘spicket’ is still acceptable. Read on if you’d like to understand in more detail.

Defining the Word ‘Spicket’ or ‘Spigot’

Let's start by exploring the difference between the two words and which is preferable to use. We will then dive into the meaning of the word, so that we can understand it better.

Which is Correct - ‘Spicket’ or ‘Spigot’

Some dictionaries list ‘spicket’ as a word, indicating that it is acceptable to use. However, for the definition, it refers us back to ‘spigot,’ meaning that ‘spigot’ is the preferred word.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary specifies that ‘spicket’ is “chiefly South & Midland” and the Urban Dictionary states that it is a term used in Pittsburgh.

It is clear then that the use of the term depends on where you are located in the United States.

This term is not widely used in any other English-speaking country.

Surveys you can find online report that even some regions of the United States do not use the word ‘spicket’ or ‘spigot’ at all - instead, they use ‘faucet.’

If you’ve been using this word ‘wrong’ your entire life, don’t worry, you are not alone. Believe it or not, a 1948 academic journal article is entirely dedicated to the confusion around this word. More on that later.

What Does It Mean?

The term ‘spigot’ refers to a faucet or a tap. This means any device that can be used to manage the release of liquid from something - be it pipes or a barrel.

‘Spigot’ is a noun that has existed since the 14th century. Back then, it identified a simple gadget to plug into a hole to stop liquid from escaping. A very similar definition - we can see how this would have evolved to refer to a faucet with the same function. Now more evolved, a spigot features a tap to control the flow.

Here are some examples of the word used in a sentence:

  • Can you loosen the spigot? I’m not getting any water through the hose.
  • Make sure to put your glass under the spigot before you open it because the beer will come flowing out.

Variants of the Word ‘Spigot’

Firstly, it is worth noting that the word ‘spigot’ has accumulated many variants over the years. Here are some common ones:

  • Tap
  • Faucet
  • Stopcock
  • Valve
  • Nozzle

Not surprising, then, that there could be some confusion around the word ‘spigot’ vs. ‘spicket’ since there are already quite a few different words that refer to the same thing.

The Confusion Around Regional Words

William Edgerton’s Survey

While William Edgerton was a teacher at Guildford College in North Carolina, he surveyed his students to find out which word was most prominent among them to refer to a ‘spigot’ - ‘spigot,’ ‘spicket’ ‘faucet,’ ‘tap,’ or anything else.

His students represented 21 states.

The results came in - ‘spicket’ was the most commonly used word!

Williams concluded that ‘spicket’ was primarily used in the South since the Southern states his students were from almost unanimously reported using the word ‘spicket.’

Other Regional Words

‘Spicket’ and ‘spigot’ aren’t the only words whose usage differs depending on where you grew up. The English language - especially the United States - has many of these.

Read the examples below and see which ones you identify with. You might even be surprised to discover that the use of some of these words is not as widespread as you thought it was.

  • Fireflies vs. lightning bugs
  • Garage sale vs. yard sale
  • Soda vs. pop
  • Garbage can vs. trash can
  • Semi truck vs. eighteen-wheeler
  • Drinking fountain vs. water fountain

And these are only to list the most commonly used terms. There are, of course, many more terms to refer to all the above objects or concepts. For example, a few more alternative terms for a garage sale are ‘rummage sale’ and ‘tag sale.’

Final Thoughts on ‘Spicket’ or ‘Spigot’

As you will have noticed, we cannot give a clear-cut answer on whether you should use ‘spicket’ or ‘spigot.’ Some believe that if a word is not listed in the dictionary, it is not a word. Others believe in the power of tradition and passing down words through generations.

Ultimately, if you use the word ‘spicket,’ there is little chance that this will be held against you. At best, you might enter into an interesting conversation with someone about linguistics.

If you intend to use the word in an academic paper or other formal pieces of writing, we recommend using ‘spigot,’ as this seems to be the more official term.

That is unless you are writing an academic paper on the regional usage of different words to mean the same thing!

We hope that this article has been helpful and brought some clarification to your dilemma.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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