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Why Do the British Call Flashlights Torches?

octobre 20, 2021

Why Do the British Call Flashlights Torches?

Just because the British also speak English, doesn’t mean that everything is carried over word-for-word. For instance, the British call flashlights “torches”. The interesting differences in terminology that they use for things may be slightly confusing, but there is often a fascinating backstory behind it.

torch vs flashlight

Why do the British call flashlights “torches”? This term came from the original torches that were essentially a stick with fire at the end. Flashlights were created in America but didn’t make their way to England until later. When this concept came to England, they called it an electric torch.  

Through reading this article, you can fully understand the difference between a torch and a flashlight in modern terms as well as the history of flashlights.

Why Do They Call Flashlights Torches?

torchAs previously mentioned, the flashlight became known as the “electric torch” when the flashlight was created in England. Prior to the flashlight, the word “torch” was used to describe a wooden stick with some combustible substance at the end, which created a light source. Eventually the “electric” was dropped from this term and they simply used “torch” as the word for a flashlight. They continue to stick with this term because they don’t believe flashlight is appropriate since they can now sustain a constant current to stay lit. 

What’s the Difference Between a Torch and a Flashlight?

torch vs STKR Flashlight

You may be wondering what the difference is between a torch and a flashlight. Other countries may be known for using torch instead of flashlight, but can these terms be interchanged? Is there a difference between them? These terms can be used interchangeably as they are just different terms for the same objects. 

What is the History of Flashlights?

historical flashlights

The history of flashlights actually dates back to 1896, when the first dry cell battery was invented. This is a refined version of previous batteries, which could function no matter what position they were in. They didn’t break or spill easily when moved around, which made them the ideal option for use in portable electrical items, like the flashlight. The flashlight itself was invented 3 years later by David Misell. The original flashlight used 3 ‘D’ batteries, which were placed inside the tubing that was used for its handle. 

Originally, the flashlight wasn’t a big seller. There were a few reasons why this was the case. For one thing, the batteries didn’t always perform properly. The other major reason why they weren’t popular is that the carbon-filament bulbs were ineffective. These downsides made the original flashlights unreliable and not worth the money to consumers at the time. 

In 1922, they started selling a variety of different styles of flashlights for consumers. The different options included:

  • Traditional cylindrical options
  • Reflector flashlights that lit up a wider area
  • Lantern shaped flashlights that could stand on their own
  • Small pocket flashlight

These different flashlight options offered a variety of options to meet various needs. The versatility that this gave flashlights made them significantly jump up in demand, selling over 10 million flashlights.

Today’s flashlights are drastically different than the flashlights of the past, due to the advancement in technology. LED flashlights are the more popular choice these days as these were more efficient to use. They would be brighter or allow you to select the specific amount of brightness that you need in some situations. They still come in a variety of options and sizes to allow people to get the perfect flashlight for whatever their needs may be. 

LED Tactical Flashlight BAMFF STKR

Additionally, these are long-lasting items that you can really take anywhere. There are small options, like the B.A.M.F.F tactical flashlights from STKR, which can fit conveniently in your pocket. There are other pocket-sized options that you can have on you at all times. You can get flashlights that can attach to your keychain. These make flashlights more portable than ever and can be used anywhere you want or need them to be used.

Lastly, the latest technologies have helped flashlights become more durable and long-lasting than what flashlights used to be capable of. LEDs flashlights tend to last significantly longer on battery power and can sometimes last many days on a new set of batteries. These are the most reliable and efficient options, which is why LED flashlights are such a wise investment in your home and safety.

What Do American’s Call a Head Torch?

A head torch, which is also referred to as a headlamp, is essentially just a flashlight that is worn on the head. A good example of this would be the FLEXIT headlamps, which have a small flashlight on a band that is worn around the forehead. This is a versatile item that can be a wise investment for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons why you should get a head torch.

headlamp flexit pro by STKR flashlights flexible headlamp


Headlamps free up your hands, which makes them great options if you want a flashlight while you are camping or hiking. These can be used to help you safely get to and from the bathroom. They can also keep your hands free when you are out on a hike, especially if it’s darker and harder to see where you are.

Around the House

When you are doing certain tasks around the house by yourself, such as fixing something under your sink, you don’t have the hands to hold a flashlight. Headlamps can help you complete these tasks as safely as possible. They can also be useful if there happens to be a power outage or a thrown breaker and you need to assess the situation with both hands free.

Nighttime Walks/Runs

Best headlamp for walking running diy construction automotive mechanic stkr flexit PRO flexible headlamp

Whether you want to go for a walk or run with your dog or just enjoy getting some extra exercise when it’s dark out, the headlamp gives you the best option. This will not only help you see better while out, but it can help drivers on the road notice you and keep you safe.

What Are Flashlights Called in Canada?

For the most part, aside from spelling, Canadian prefer to stick with American English over British English. There are some terms that Canadians prefer from British English than from America. For instance, they use “zed” rather than saying the letter “z” or “nappy” instead of “diaper”. They also prefer to use “torch” for flashlights rather than saying “flashlight”.  

Where Did the Term Flashlight Originate?

The term “flashlight” originated from when the flashlight was first invented by David Misell, who was a British man living in America at the time he invented this product. A Russian immigrant by the name of Conrad Hubert was the one who actually named this invention a “flashlight” when he brought it to market. How did he come up with that name? The name came from the fact that you had to turn off the flashlight after some time since the copper batteries can’t maintain constant currents to keep the flashlight going, hence they only gave brief flashes of light. 

Where Did the Term Torch Come from?

From the Old French "torche" meaning "twisted thing", hence "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax", probably from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Late Latin torqua, variant of classical Latin torques "collar of twisted metal", from torquere "to twist".Wikipedia.org


Flashlights are a far cry from the flame torches that were originally used for centuries. Today, flashlights have evolved in a way that everyone has the perfect flashlight for their specific needs. Whether you want a big flashlight or a small one, or some other portable lighting option, flashlights are the perfect tool for your lighting needs. STKR Concepts offers a variety of flashlight solutions, or torches, to find something that best meets whatever your needs may be.

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