My native English friends often use both of them but I have no idea what they mean by "bathe" and "shower". I take them to mean the same thing. They have other meanings as well, but I mean the act in which you throw water over yourself and make yourself clean.

One of the definitions of "shower" in Cambridge Dictionary is:

to take a shower:
I shower every morning.

And for "bathe":

to wash someone, usually with soap and water in a bathtub:
I had to change the kids’ diapers and feed them and bathe them.

I am really confused. Can anyone clarify

  1. "bathe" vs "shower"
  2. take a bath vs take a shower


  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because the dictionary definition for "shower" includes a picture of a shower head, which clearly identifies the difference between a bathtub and a shower. In English it is very common for nouns to be used as verbs, and I see no possible confusion between the two different forms of washing oneself. – Mari-Lou A Jan 23 at 8:48
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    @Mari-LouA - Sure vote to close the question, but just to let you know, the difference between them could be subtle to any native speaker, and I'm sure you're a native speaker of English. But if you put yourself in my (non-native speaker) shoes, you will see how difficult and perplexing it is to identify the difference between both the words. – Sphinx Jan 23 at 9:49
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    This is disappointing that native speakers think that the difference is subtle, but they are native speakers of the language. They don't have the experience of being a non-native speaker of the language. I cannot explain how hard it is to distinguish between the closely related terms in a second language. – Sphinx Jan 23 at 9:50
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    I don't think it's that subtle. You bathe in a container of still water, you shower under a shower of falling water! – Kate Bunting Jan 23 at 12:01
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    I think this should be reopened. The distinction is not as simple as tub vs shower head. – David Siegel Jan 27 at 22:27

A shower is a kind of bath:

American Heritage Dictionary "shower"

  1. intransitive verb: To wash oneself in a shower.

  2. Noun a. A bath in which the water is sprayed on the bather in fine streams from a showerhead, usually secured overhead: take a shower.
    b. The stall or tub in which such a bath is taken.

While a shower is a kind of bath, and showering is a kind of bathing, usually to bathe mean to wash oneself while sitting in a bathtub.
To shower mean s to wash oneself while standing under a fall of water in a shower.


"Bathe" or "take a bath" practically universally means to wash by filling a tub and lie down in it to submerse yourself in hot water.

"Shower" or "take a shower" means to wash by standing underneath a device which sprinkles (or pours) water over you from a height.

"Bathe" can also mean to indulge in the recreational activity whereby you go into the sea to paddle or swim or just generally splash around for fun. Or a river or a lake, but (at least in the UK, where there is a coastline within a short drive of everywhere) usually the sea.

  • What happens with "take a shower"? Personally, I think the OP has already answered their question, the difference is clearly explained in the dictionary definitions. It's even got a picture of a shower head. – Mari-Lou A Jan 23 at 8:42
  • Seriously, I need to answer what "take a shower" means? Sorry, life's too short to waste on things that are that trivial. – Prime Mover Jan 23 at 8:56
  • (Sorry, couldn't reply earlier) Good, then we agree. The question is trivial and the answer is already contained in the question. Vote to close the question. – Mari-Lou A Jan 23 at 12:15
  • @Mari-LouA Sure the question is trivial to you, but not to me. I couldn't see how the answer was contained in my question. Also you have voted to close it yourself (you can even downvote if it please), but telling others to vote and close is ill-mannered. I don't see how my question is trivial, if others thought it was trivial, someone else would have voted to close, but theres only one close vote. And the answer wasn't present in my question because the way I bathe/ shower is still different from those provided by the answers so I still don't know what to use for the way I bathe/ shower. – Sphinx Jan 24 at 6:58
  • @Sphinx You either sit in a tub of water and more-or-less immerse yourself (in which case you "take a bath" or "bathe"), or you stand (or possibly sit) under a device which sprinkles you with water (in which case you "(take a) shower") or you do neither (e.g. you rub yourself with a wet soapy cloth, perhaps), in which case you just "wash (yourself)". – Prime Mover Jan 24 at 8:02

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