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Many dictionaries that I have looked at online seem to use enchufe as a word that is interchangeable for the English words plug and socket, which are two related, but distinct objects. Some dictionaries list toma de corriente as an alternative, but my personal experience has simply been enchufe. Am I wrong? In which contexts would I use enchufe vs. toma de corriente?

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+1 Good question! – César Mar 12 '12 at 13:16

Toma de corriente (or Tomacorriente):

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I wouldn't say they are interchangeable at all. They are clearly different things.


As Javi and Dusan have said, enchufe is used sometimes to refer to a tomacorriente. I've definitely heard people using it in the way Juanillo mentions:

¿Dónde hay un enchufe para conectar el portátil?

RAE has this definition for enchufe:

Dispositivo formado por dos piezas que se encajan una en otra cuando se quiere establecer una conexión eléctrica.

That definition seems to indicate that an enchufe is really formed by both devices, the plug and the socket; but again, enchufe is used to refer to a socket as well.

I still prefer to differentiate between them by calling enchufe to the plug and tomacorriente to the socket. For example, Juanillo's example could be expressed as:

¿En dónde hay un tomacorriente para conectar mi portátil?

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At least in Spain, both can be called as enchufe. "Toma de corriente" is a more a technical name and non-technician people use "enchufe". As "¿dónde hay un enchufe para conectar el portátil?" – Juanillo Mar 12 '12 at 10:29
In Chile also both are called 'enchufe'. – dusan Mar 12 '12 at 12:03
You call both enchufe? So you say: Conecta el enchufe en el enchufe? – César Mar 12 '12 at 13:16
@César people tend to make things as short as possible so they would just say "conecta el enchufe" (it's obvious where) or just "enchúfalo". One of them is "enchufe macho" and the other is "enchufe hembra", but people uses just enchufe because most of the time it's understood by the context which one is. – Javi Mar 12 '12 at 13:31
@Javi thanks I get it now, I was thinking something else because you can connect an enchufe in a supresor de picos for example. – César Mar 12 '12 at 13:36

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