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Can we use the two words interchangeably?
LanguageLoverCellar is a room under the ground floor, usually for storage, whereas basement is a part of building that is completely or partially below the ground level, it could be an apartment, a kitchen, or rooms.
But the underground 'complete' floor (which is used only for storage, but has a lot of rooms) of a house is called basement, right?
KatarinaWhat's the difference between 'cellar' and 'basement'?My experience growing up on the plains: basement is accessed from a vertical door inside the house; cellar is accessed from a horizontal door outside the house. Basements can be finished, cellars are for storage.
cellar: c.1225, from O.Fr. celer, from L. cellarium "pantry, storeroom," lit. "group of cells," from L. cella (cell)
cell: c.1131, "small room," from L. cella "small room, hut," related to L. celare "to hide, conceal," from PIE base *kel- "conceal" (cf. Skt. cala "hut, house, hall;" Gk. kalia "hut, nest," kalyptein "to cover," koleon "sheath," kelyphos "shell, husk;" L. cella "store room," clam "secret;" O.Ir. cuile "cellar," celim "hide," M.Ir. cul "defense, shelter;" Goth. hulistr "covering," O.E. heolstor "lurking-hole, cave, covering," Goth. huljan "cover over," hulundi "hole," hilms "helmet," halja "hell," O.E. hol "cave," holu "husk, pod"). Earliest sense is for monastic rooms, then prison rooms (1722). Used in biology 17c., but not in modern sense until 1845. Meaning "small group of people working within a larger organization" is from 1925. Cellphone is from 1984.
Still, the two words are sometimes used interchangeably.
"Basement" does not mean the lowest floor, however. For example, I live in a house which has no basement (or cellar). This is typical in California, although some people have half-basements. These do not extend across the entire house, but are located under only part of it.
I grew up in the Midwest. In our house we had a cellar (storage room for canned goods, etc.) in the basement. The arrangement Philip describes we used to call a cellar as well, or a storm cellar, or a root cellar.
(Actually, if you try to use non-cognates as much as possible, your vocabulary in English will expand much faster than if you always rely on cognates.)
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