lumber, timber or wood ?

Timber, lumber, wood – isn’t it really all the same….?

Recently my family and I were driving down the highway and came across a new construction site where the builders had cleared a wooded area – in my opinion just to give visibility from the highway to the new building (ugh!).  I commented on how it was a waste to clear this land (to which they did nothing with the trees except burn them on site) just to allow a view of the new building.  I also expressed that builders should be required to contact local sawmills and give them the opportunity to come and remove the timber so they can be used for lumber.  After all, wood is expensive and in my part of the country, exotic and thick slab wood is almost impossible to find.

Well, my wife and kids thought my use of the word timber was funny.  You have to understand that my family will take any opportunity to poke at each other – and I guess I do my share of that too –  all in fun.  I tried to explain to them that timber, lumber, and wood were all synonymous  (and I’m sure they understand but that won’t get in the way of rubbing me when they can) and that the use of a particular word depended upon the context of the conversation.  For instance people who cut down trees are called lumber jacks, not timber jacks and not wood jacks; when you see a stack of fresh-cut trees in a field we usually refer to it as timber, when you go hunting or camping you will go to the woods, and when we go to the local hardware store for a woodworking project we go to the lumber section and purchase wood.

So all this got me thinking [I really wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about since I had already positioned my foot to be inserted into my mouth] so I went to the great oracle – Google.


Source: type “define lumber” at

Nonetheless, the whole thing has given my family just one more arrow in their quiver to use to ridicule me….  but it is all in good fun, and I know I probably deserve it… but just for the record – I was right…. 🙂


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