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Surprise! Flatware and Silverware Are Not the Same Thing

A fork, two spoons, and a knife sit on top of a plate.
Irina Simkina/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to kitchen must-haves, flatware is at the top of the list. After all, you need something to eat with, but when shopping, you might notice you’ve got a choice between silverware and flatware.

While you might use the terms interchangeably, flatware and silverware are different from one another.

Flatware consists of spoons, forks, and other serving utensils used for everyday meals. There’s typically a set for each person eating at the table. The pieces can be made from any material including plastic, acrylic, or stainless steel. Most of what you use each day is actually flatware, not silverware.

WYT Colorful Silverware Set

Bring some color to your dining.

While some flatware is partially made from silver (and nickel), actual silverware has to be made from nearly all silver. In order to qualify, it has to be crafted from at least 92.5% silver. Most consists of sterling silver, and it’s often markedly pricier than flatware.

Mikasa Regent Bead 65 Piece Silverware Set

For something fancy, true silverware is the way to go.

As for what the two have in common, they both consist of forks, spoons, and other utensils used for eating. They are also both sold in settings of five including a dinner knife, fork, salad fork, table spoon, and tea spoon.

When it comes to practical, real-life differences, though, you really only need to consider what you’d like your utensils to be made from. Flatware can often be less expensive, but silverware might be nice for special occasions.

Ultimately, though, the choice is up to you.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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