A work colleague asked me if I’d written a blog about the difference between floor and ground (which I hadn’t up to now). We discussed that the word floor possibly meant inside and the word ground referred to outside. I wasn’t expecting to find anything relevant or even interesting on the internet about this difference; however, the Word-Detective.com had quite an interesting article in response to a couple debating whether they should call their outside patio the ground or the floor.
The article said that both floor and ground are old English words with Germanic roots and explained that “the use of ground outside and floor inside is purely a convention”. They went on to say that “almost all uses of ‘ground’ in the general ‘surface’ sense takes place outdoors”. In contrast, the floor has a “general meaning of ‘flatness’. Throughout its history in English, ‘floor’ has pretty much been confined to meaning ‘the level surface underlying the interior of a room’”.
They ended the article suggesting to the couple that they might be wiser to call their patio something completely different i.e. “the surface”!
The only other place that I could find anything else relating to this was on a forum Wordcraft.infopop.cc, but even there it is suggested that generally the floor is inside and the ground is outside. Apart from, you might get the SWAT team come into your house and say ‘get down on the ground!’ irrespective of if you are inside or outside.
Have you heard the words floor and ground used interchangeably?