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Pushpin vs. Thumbtack — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 19, 2023
A pushpin has a longer, cylindrical body with a plastic or metal head, often used for precision or decorative purposes. A thumbtack has a shorter, flat body with a metal head, commonly used for quickly pinning items to surfaces.
Pushpin vs. Thumbtack — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Pushpin and Thumbtack


Key Differences

A pushpin is characterized by its longer, cylindrical body that usually terminates in a rounded or flat head made of plastic or metal. These heads are often colorful or decorative, making pushpins popular in office or educational settings where aesthetics may be important. On the other hand, a thumbtack generally has a shorter, flat metallic body with a relatively simple metal head. They are often seen in more utilitarian roles where aesthetics are not the primary concern.
Both pushpins and thumbtacks serve the essential purpose of attaching papers, photos, or other lightweight items to a board or wall. However, pushpins, due to their design, are easier to grasp and remove. Thumbtacks, by contrast, have a low-profile design that makes them less obtrusive but also more difficult to remove without a tool or careful maneuvering.
When it comes to holding power, pushpins and thumbtacks are pretty much on par with each other. However, pushpins are often preferred when precision is required, as their design allows for easier handling. Thumbtacks, due to their flat nature, are less likely to be knocked out of place but are less precise to place and remove.
Pushpins are often used for crafting or artistic displays due to their more colorful or unique head designs. Thumbtacks are more likely to be used for simple, functional tasks like pinning a notice to a bulletin board. Overall, while the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, their distinct features make each better suited for specific tasks.

Comparison Chart

Body Shape

Longer, cylindrical
Shorter, flat

Head Material

Plastic or metal
Usually metal


Often colorful
Generally plain

Ease of Removal

Easier to grasp
Harder to remove

Typical Use

Decorative, precision
Functional, quick

Compare with Definitions


A pin with a long body
I used a pushpin to hang my calendar.


A pin with a flat body
I used a thumbtack to pin the notice.


Used for precision
Use a pushpin for accurate placement on the map.


Features a flat head
The thumbtack's flat head is less obtrusive.


Often decorative
The colorful pushpins brightened up the bulletin board.


Typically metallic
The thumbtack's metal head was hard to grasp.


(countable) A thumbtack, especially one with a cylindrical head.


Used for quick tasks
I grabbed a thumbtack to hang the poster.


Features a rounded head
The pushpin's rounded head makes it easier to grasp.


Suitable for utility
A thumbtack is good for simple, functional tasks.


Suitable for crafting
We used pushpins to create the string art.


A short flat-headed pin, used for fastening paper to a wall or other surface; a drawing pin.


A drawing pin with a spherical or cylindrical head of coloured plastic.


A tack with a smooth, rounded head that can be pressed into place with the thumb.


A tacklike pin with a large head that is easily inserted into a wall or board.


To affix with a thumbtack.


(Archaic) A children's game in which one player tries to push a pin over an opponent's pin.


(North America) A small nail-like tack with a slightly rounded head that can be pressed into place with light pressure from the thumb; used for hanging light articles on a wall or noticeboard.


An old children's game where pins are placed on a table and each player tries to push his pin so as to cross the other's.


(transitive) To fix or attach something with a thumbtack.


(transitive) To fasten with a thumbtack.


A tack for attaching papers to a bulletin board or drawing board


A child's game played with pins.


Fasten with thumbtacks;
The teacher thumbtacked the notice on the bulletin board


A tack for attaching papers to a bulletin board or drawing board

Common Curiosities

What is a Thumbtack?

A thumbtack is a shorter pin with a metallic head, usually plain.

Which is easier to remove, a Pushpin or Thumbtack?

A pushpin is generally easier to remove due to its longer body.

Is a Pushpin longer than a Thumbtack?

Yes, pushpins are generally longer with a cylindrical body.

Is a Thumbtack flatter than a Pushpin?

Yes, thumbtacks have a flat body and are less obtrusive.

Which is more durable, a Pushpin or Thumbtack?

Both are fairly durable, but material quality can differ.

Do Pushpins come in various colors?

Yes, pushpins often come in a variety of colors and designs.

What is a Pushpin?

A pushpin is a longer pin with a plastic or metal head, often decorative.

What is the typical use for Thumbtacks?

Thumbtacks are usually used for quick, functional tasks.

Can Pushpin and Thumbtack be used interchangeably?

They can often substitute for each other, but they have specific strengths.

Which is more decorative, a Pushpin or Thumbtack?

Pushpins are often more decorative due to their colorful heads.

Do Thumbtacks come in various colors?

Generally, thumbtacks are plain, but some colored options exist.

Can I use a Thumbtack for notices?

Yes, thumbtacks are commonly used for pinning notices to boards.

What is the typical use for Pushpins?

Pushpins are often used for decorative or precise tasks.

Can I use a Pushpin for crafts?

Yes, pushpins are often used for crafting due to their aesthetic appeal.

Are Pushpins more expensive than Thumbtacks?

Pushpins can be more expensive, especially decorative ones.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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