Recognize that large container now residing in your kitchen? The one you use to prepare meals, right. Please tell me the name of the product. One of the terms “oven,” “stove,” or “range” probably best describes it. Yet why is it that no one can settle on a single name? Where does all this muddle come from?
While upbringing and tradition likely have a large role, there may be other influences at play. As techniques and tools for preparing meals at home have advanced, so too have the words we use to describe those tools and the range of tools available to us.
But when you get right down to it, there are distinct distinctions between these three words. So, let’s get this straightened up.
Get the most basic definition out of the way first: A simple box used for cooking or heating food is called an oven. To put it another way, the oven is the box or enclosure in which the cooking takes place.
The term “oven” may refer to anything from a pit dug in the ground with a fire set on it to a little electric appliance on a kitchen counter to a large commercial facility. And what, if anything, is not a stovetop, you inquire? Cooking equipment located outside the oven, such as a gas, electric, or induction stovetop. There’s a special name for that kind of thing!
Even still, there are many who insist on calling the whole structure an oven. For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to this group of appliances as “ovens” since that is the name with which most people are most familiar.
This is when things start to becomemurkier.Stove may refer to any enclosed area that burns fuel to create heat. That resemblance to a stove or oven is uncanny, right?
Yes and no, I suppose. Many types of stoves exist, and some of them only heat the room, not the meal (or only do so incidentally). There are several types of stoves available, such as those that burn coal, wood, or pellets. Actually, ovens may be seen as a subset of stoves; in other words, all ovens are stoves, but not all stoves are ovens.
Stoves may also double as ovens, although ovens don’t always double as stoves.
Another complication is that most stoves have a surface called a cooktop. A griddle inside a wood-burning stove is heated by the stove’s radiant heat. Cooktops in contemporary homes often include gas or electric burners.
Independent of the rest of the range, a stovetop may stand on its own. As arranged above, we correctly refer to them as cooktops. The term “camp stove” is often used interchangeably with “portable stove,” which is a kind of industrial cooktop. Gas or electricity, the latter of which also involves magnetic induction, may be used on these surfaces. Stovetops and cooktops are referred to as hobs in the United Kingdom.
There’s another word for a stove, albeit at least one major dictionary includes the cooktop itself in the definition of “stove.”
Do you recall the stovetops of yesteryear? But when the cooktop is self-sufficient in terms of fuel and is joined to an oven, we’re talking about a range. It’s a one-stop shop for food preparation and the best-selling kind of kitchen equipment in America.
Perhaps you already have these items in your pantry.
However, although ovens are often acquired along with the range, there are always exceptions. Ovens mounted on the wall are standard in high-end kitchens, and they are often accompanied by stovetops installed on a separate countertop. This arrangement usually requires more room, but it provides more options for kitchen layout.
In that case, what should I name it?
If your cooking space doesn’t have any stovetop burners built in, it’s not really an oven. A cooktop is a surface used to prepare food that does not have an oven built into it (or hob). A range is the correct term for a combination oven and stove, however either term is acceptable.
While “range” is the most precise phrase for describing the vast majority of cooking equipment used in American homes, the reality is that most listeners will understand what you mean no matter which word you choose.