Sweater versus jumper – what’s in a name?

Do you wear a jumper or a sweater? Maybe you prefer a pullover? Wondering what the difference is? The short answer is … none. They’re just three words for the same thing.

What we think of as a jumper here in the UK – a warm, often knitted top – is what Americans call a sweater or pullover. In other words, sweater is to jumper what eggplant is to aubergine, gas is to petrol and soccer is to football.Simple right? Not quite… In America, ‘jumper’ is actually another name for what us Brits would call a pinafore dress. It’s worn over a blouse and comes in a variety of different materials.

A pullover is just another synonym for sweater, but a sweatshirt is a more casual, sports-like jumper. Both the UK and the US use the word hoodie for a casual jumper with a hood. But while we have tank tops, Americans have sweater vests.

Here’s another interesting fact for you – it’s believed the word jumper may have derived from ‘jump’ – a smock-like shirt worn back in the 1600s. Sweater (as you might have guessed) is so named because it can make you sweat.A pullover needs to be pulled over the head. Cardigans (which are called the same in the UK and the US) are usually buttoned, but they can be zipped or have no fastenings at all. They get their name from James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan.

He was a Major General in the Crimean War, who rose to fame after leading the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. At the time, army officers wore a long knitted woollen waistcoat. Legend has it that James accidentally burnt the tails of his waistcoat off – so creating what became known as the cardigan.

Shop our collection of cardigans and jumpers. Which will you choose. And what will you call it?