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This article is about the physical container. For other uses, see Bucket (disambiguation).
Water well buckets

A bucket or pail is typically a watertight, vertical cylinder or truncated cone, with an open top and a flat bottom, attached to a semicircular carrying handle called the bail.[1][2] A common volume is 10 liters (10 dm³).


Japanese Edo Bousui.jpg

Building materials and solvents have been packaged in large metal pails, but in recent decades plastic buckets have been greatly favored. Plastic buckets have more uses due to the popularity of plastic for food products and the tendency of metal pails to rust.

Types and uses[edit]

There are many types of buckets;

  • A water bucket is used to carry water
  • Household and garden buckets are often used for carrying liquids and granular products
  • Elaborate ceremonial or ritual buckets in bronze, ivory or other materials are found in several ancient or medieval cultures and are sometimes known by the Latin for bucket, situla
  • Large scoops or buckets are attached to loaders and telehandlers for agricultural and earthmoving purposes
  • A lunch box is often called a lunch pail, or a lunch bucket.
  • Buckets can be reused as seats, tool caddies, hydroponic gardens, chamberpots, "street" drums, or livestock feeders
  • Buckets are often used as a children's toys to shape and carry sand on a beach or in a sandpit

Shipping containers[edit]

Main article: pail (container)

As a shipping container, the word "pail" is a technical term for a bucket shaped package with a sealed top or lid which is used as a shipping container for chemicals and industrial products.[3]

English literature[edit]

The bucket has been used in many phrases and idioms in the English language.[4]

  • Kick the bucket: a euphemism for someone's death.
  • Drop the bucket on: which refers to implicating a person.
  • A drop in the bucket: which means a small, inadequate amount when is given in terms of how much is requested or asked.
  • Bucket List: a list of activities one wishes to undertake before death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bucket". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Flexner, Stuart; Hauck, :epmpre, eds. (1993) [1987]. Random House Unabridged Dictionary p (hardcover) (second ed.). New York: Random House. p. 271. ISBN 0-679-42917-4. 
  3. ^ Soroka, W. Illustrated Glossary of Packaging Terminology (Second ed.). Institute of Packaging Professionals. 
  1. Earth Day 2008 article, Fredericksburg, VA, Free Lance-Star Newspaper [1]
  2. Warning [2]

External links[edit]