I'm specifically talking about this:

Power Connector with arrow pointing to Yellow-Green lead

I understand the difference between earth and ground, which is why I'm confused to see this being referred to both as "ground wire" as well as "earth wire".

Is this a American vs British English thing? Or maybe a common misuse of "ground"? Or..?

Also, asking this here seemed to make more sense than over at English SE. Or am I wrong?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "I understand the difference between earth and ground" - that's probably where you are going wrong then. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka Could you elaborate? \$\endgroup\$
    – KJdev
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what the difference is that you understand? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 8:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ People use the terms ground and earth interchangeably. Personally, I assume nothing and if a question is raised where bonding to real earth is important, I ask for clarification. It wouldn't bother me if someone called the yellow/green wire earth or ground. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 9:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No takers for "earth ground"? \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


The terms are completely interchangeable. While some people try to insist that one is 'safety', or '0v', or 'common', or 'return', or 'to actual soil', they are not definitive terms. If you find any old books 'defining' such terms, then they are for use only within that discipline. For instance a railway maintenance worker operating to the maintenance handbook issue 17 may attach very specific meanings to earth and ground, but it's not any definition shared by the rest of the technical community.

If the general term is not sufficient, then you have to specify what aspect(s) of 'ground' is actually meant. The one you have pictured may have 'able to withstand 6000A for the time it takes to blow a 5A rated fuse' and 'connects first, breaks last', as two of its 'safety ground' defining features.


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