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tube vs. pipe

English translation: another two cents' worth

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08:42 May 8, 2001
German to English translations [PRO]
Tech/Engineering
German term or phrase: tube vs. pipe
What is the difference between the two, when to use which?
Example: Stahlrohr for stabilizing

Thank you!
Michael Scheidler
Local time: 20:03
English translation:another two cents' worth
Explanation:
Well, Chambers dict has 'pipe: a metal or plastic tube for conveying water, gas, etc; any tube, or tubular part or thing, natural or artificial, ...'
and
'tube: a pipe; any long hollow body, ...'

So -- a real treat for fans of circular definitions. Personally, I agree that generally speaking, a pipe conveys a material (liquid, gas or slurry), and a tube is generally either hollow or open. However, there are no fast rules. A piece of pipe can be used for a different purpose, but it will still be called a piece of pipe. Also, a tube that is relatively short for its diameter would probably still be called a tube, even if it conveys something. Cauking materials come in tubes, not pipes.

I don't agree that Stahlrohr is necessarily to be translated as 'steel pipe'. As said, if the item in question was originally intended to be used as a pipe, it would still be called a pipe even if it is used structurally, However, if it was never inteneded to be used as a pipe, it would be called a tube (e.g. a bicycle frame is made of tubes, not pipes).
Selected response from:

Ken Cox
Local time: 20:03
Grading comment
Thanks to all of you for your considerations and effort.
I think it became clear that there are no absolute rules here as language is somehow constantly evolving.
But at least Ken's explanation gave me some orientation and the bycicle example is convincing.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
nahere's moreBeth Kantus
naafterthoughtKen Cox
naanother two cents' worthKen Cox
natube vs. pipeManfred Mondt
nasteel pipe for stabilizing
Alexander Schleber
natube or pipe
Matthew Harris


  

Answers


13 mins
tube or pipe


Explanation:
tubing and pipe are essentially conveying a medium. I feel tube can be flexible and is sometimes expressed as \"verrohrung\" in German, whereas pipe is often used a \"leitung\" or even pipeways at refineries (taught English at one for five years in Germany).

This can only really be solved in context for you. Perhaps you could elaborate.


Matthew Harris
Germany
Local time: 20:03
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 88

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Astrid Elke Witte
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20 mins
steel pipe for stabilizing


Explanation:
This question has been the cause of lots of discussions.
Generally though one can say that the difference is one of size, at least in English. A tube is typically 'smaller' and a pipe is generally 'larger' (excepot of course when digging a tunnel, where the hole is a tube in GB and lmay be a pipe in the USA.
tube = Leitung -> but tube also is translated as "Rohr" in German.
Wasserrohr = water pipe (pipeline), which is larger than a
Wasserleitung = water tube
The Webster's list pipe as a syonym for tube, but not vice versa.
Since it is so confusing, authors also tend to use the terms interchangably. I would suggest you make a rule for yourself and then stick to it throughout any translation.

IHTH


    Ernst / Oxford / Webster's and lot's of discussions on this problem
Alexander Schleber
Belgium
Local time: 20:03
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2340

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Astrid Elke Witte
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1 hr
tube vs. pipe


Explanation:
As mentioned above, this is a tough one. According to my experience in the US:
If it is joined by cutting threads on the end, it likely to be a pipe.
If is joined by some type of compression fitting it is more likely to a tube/tubing.
If it is used for water, gas or air it is very likely to be a pipe, unless of course it is made of some plastic, or a flexible hose (another word).
If it used to contain electrical wiring it is most likely a tube.
Example: PVC pipe, like schedule 40 heavy walled, also drain pipe, is always a pipe, regardless id size (1/2 to 6").
Thin PVC, which can be bend, for water is tubing.
Elelectrical tubing, also made from PVC, any size, is tubing, made from metal, like EMT (electric metallic tubing) is tubing.
There you have it. Manfred


    Experience
Manfred Mondt
United States
Local time: 14:03
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 252

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Astrid Elke Witte
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6 hrs
another two cents' worth


Explanation:
Well, Chambers dict has 'pipe: a metal or plastic tube for conveying water, gas, etc; any tube, or tubular part or thing, natural or artificial, ...'
and
'tube: a pipe; any long hollow body, ...'

So -- a real treat for fans of circular definitions. Personally, I agree that generally speaking, a pipe conveys a material (liquid, gas or slurry), and a tube is generally either hollow or open. However, there are no fast rules. A piece of pipe can be used for a different purpose, but it will still be called a piece of pipe. Also, a tube that is relatively short for its diameter would probably still be called a tube, even if it conveys something. Cauking materials come in tubes, not pipes.

I don't agree that Stahlrohr is necessarily to be translated as 'steel pipe'. As said, if the item in question was originally intended to be used as a pipe, it would still be called a pipe even if it is used structurally, However, if it was never inteneded to be used as a pipe, it would be called a tube (e.g. a bicycle frame is made of tubes, not pipes).

Ken Cox
Local time: 20:03
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 5905
Grading comment
Thanks to all of you for your considerations and effort.
I think it became clear that there are no absolute rules here as language is somehow constantly evolving.
But at least Ken's explanation gave me some orientation and the bycicle example is convincing.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Rolf Bueskens
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11 hrs
here's more


Explanation:
My (engineer) husband says:
a tube normally requires a fitting to be connected to something else; a pipe connection or fitting will be threaded. If it is used for electrical wiring, you can avoid the problem altogether and call it a conduit. Stahlrohr für stabilizing he says is steel tubing.
I think this question goes beyond the issues of design and function or manufacture and really is -- as Ken said -- a circular dilemma, a lot like screw and bolt, that is heavily dependent on context and individual company conventions.
Good luck!

Beth Kantus
United States
Local time: 14:03
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 924
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1 day 5 hrs
afterthought


Explanation:
"tube" is generally more of a technical term, and "pipe" more of a lay term. Thus the layman will often refer to something as a "pipe" that an engineer would call a "tube", except where the usage is fixed. This partly explains why there is so much ambiguity in the usage of the two words (and might help in translation in the odd case)

Ken Cox
Local time: 20:03
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 5905
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