What’s The Difference Between A Hall And A Hallway? (Tips)

I’ve always called it a hall and my wife has always called it a hallway. So what’s the difference?

The word hall refers to a room. A hall in a home can be a small room at the front door or a hall can be a large public room in a convention center. The word hallway refers to a passageway in between rooms. A hallway is a long, narrow space that links up several rooms. You just walk in a hallway.

Let’s discover more about the topic of halls and hallways in more detail, and discover the key difference between the two – and what this means for interior decorating and furnishings…

What's The Difference Between A Hall And A Hallway?

What Is Considered a Hall?

There is a lot of overlap between the modern usage of the words hall and hallway. But for the majority of the time, the word hall refers to a room. A hall in a home can be a small room at the front door or a hall can be a large public room in a convention center.

The word hallway refers to a passageway in between rooms. A hallway is a long, narrow space that links up several rooms. You just walk in a hallway.

In medieval times, the hall of the home or castle was the large room with the fireplace. A popular place, halls in those times was where the food was served, music played and where guests stretched out to sleep for the night.

Later, the giant halls of old were subdivided into separate rooms. The old halls were scaled down to become spaces just inside the front door where guests could come inside and be greeted. There may have been a bench or two for them there.

From the hall, guests were shown into the parlor or front room. The parlor was a formal room located near the front door. Long lost relatives and strangers were seated there. The bodies of loved ones were laid out there.

Today we are less formal and our homes are smaller. The giant hall or yore has become a handy room near the front door where you can shed boots and coats. And, we have all decided that a formal parlor is not a good use of our precious home square footage. Today, guests are normally shown straight into the living room.

Halls as rooms also exist as public gathering places. Hotels and convention centers have halls. Some universities or colleges have halls. 

Interested in old houses and how people used to live? Check out goffering irons and coffin drops in these old Welsh houses.

What Do You Call the Hallway in a Home?

A hallway in a home is sometimes called a corridor.

Is There a Difference Between a Hall and a Corridor?

By our definition, a hall is a room in a home or in a building like a convention center. A corridor is a passageway, like a hallway. 

The word hallway is almost always used for long, narrow passageways inside the home. Inside the home, the words hallway and corridor are synonymous. 

However, in large buildings like hospitals, prisons and hotels, corridors – not hallways – connect rooms. In large buildings, corridors serve as wide spaces for several people walking side by side, or with luggage, wheelchairs or even hospital beds.

Corridors in buildings also serve a safety purpose. In the world of building codes, a corridor is an enclosed exit passageway. It provides a path of egress to an exit. According to code, in case of an emergency, a corridor must be large enough that all the people on that floor can make their way safely to the exit.

If you are on a train or a ship, the passageways there are called corridors (not hallways).

If you enjoy road trips in America, you will probably have driven through a safety corridor. This corridor is a stretch of highway that has an abnormally high rate of collisions and injuries. In a safety corridor, speed limits are strictly enforced.

Still confused? Here’s a good link for the corridor versus hallway debate.

Why Is It Called a Hallway?

The word hallway (1839) is a mashup of two Old English words, heall and weg. The word heall refers to a covered place, temple or court of law. The word weg means road or path.

Here’s a video with corridor and hallway ideas for your home.

What’s Another Word for a Hallway?

Another word for hallway is passageway.

What Is a Tiny Hallway Called?

A tiny hallway is sometimes called a vestibule or even a hall.

A vestibule is often located near the front door. Sometimes called an arctic entry or small foyer, it leads into a larger hall or foyer space. The vestibule prevents heat loss near the front door.

Is a Living Room and a Hall the Same?

Not the same – not anymore. In the past, a hall was where you greeted relative strangers or business colleagues. The hall had some places to sit down but nothing for entertainment, like music or a TV.

A living room, on the other hand, is designed for and filled with everything a family and their friends might want to relax and unwind. The living room has space for everyone on comfy chairs and sofas. It may or may not have a bar cart, a large screen TV and bookshelves filled with books. 

Are Hallways Rooms?

No, not really. Hallways are not rooms like kitchens or bedrooms, which are counted as living space in home listings. However, the gross or total square footage of a house is defined as everything in between the outside walls of a house, so hallways are included.

What Is Common Hallway?

A common hallway is one that is shared. For example, in a boarding house or hostel, a common hallway provides access for several private rooms.

In the world of building codes and tenant law, a common hallway is a space owned by the owner of the building. The owner maintains, improves and abides by building safety codes in the common hallway.

What Do You Call a Long Hallway?

A long hallway is usually called a corridor.

Do You Say at the Hall or in the Hall?

Depends. If you are referring to a hall in a university or a large hotel, you could meet someone “at” the hall. If you are already inside the hall at the convention center, then you are “in” the hall.

When Were Hallways Widely Used?

In 1597, John Thorpe was the first architect of record to replace several rooms connected together with a long hall.

Before 1597, you had to walk through the first room to get to a second room. Then, you walked through that room to get to the next room, and so on. Clever John Thorpe simply linked up all the rooms with one long, thin space called a hall.

Amazingly, the concept of halls in residential construction didn’t become common until 1875.

Hallway in modern home

Why Do Houses Have Hallways?

For circulation and privacy. 

Think of houses before hallways were common. Every person in the house would have to get around by walking through one room to get to the other one. Every room had to have a walkway space – like a people highway – at least two feet wide.

Hopefully, your bedroom was located at the end of the room chain, for privacy. 

What Is the Purpose of a Hall?

In olden times, the hall was where everyone did everything. It was one of the few rooms that were heated.

Today, a hall in a home is generally located at the front door. It is a space for people to enter and be greeted. It has a closet for coats and a rack for umbrellas. It is generally sparsely furnished.

A hall at a convention center or college is a place for large gatherings. A hall can be a place for speeches or short courses. It can be set up with booths. A hall is large enough for a live band and some dancing. 

In a college, a hall can be where meals happen, or the building where students are housed.

What Is a Hall Bedroom?

A hall bedroom is a small bedroom partitioned at the end of a hallway or is the smallest bedroom off the hallway. Use the hall bedroom for your least favorite guest.

Final Words

So it turns out the history of halls and hallways is totally fascinating – and me and my wife are both right in our definitions (kind of).

It’s actually amazing what we’ve discovered about the history of this most unassuming room – and it gives me a new respect for halls in the history and context of the home.