So, that got me thinking. Is there a difference between the meanings of a basin and a sink?
I just assumed because I had used the word ‘basin’ she would know I meant the bathroom.
When you look these two words up in the dictionary, it is actually quite a job to find the word sink as a noun. I finally found the definition online in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/learner/sink where, right at the bottom of the page, it stated:
A large open container in a kitchen that has taps/faucets to supply water and that you use for washing dishes, in: Don't just leave your dirty plates in the sink! I felt chained to the kitchen sink (= I had to spend all my time doing jobs in the house).
(I can relate to that!)
Apparently the word origin as a noun is Middle English from the verb sink.
Basin was easy to find and, as you will know, comes from the word washbasin. Below are both definitions:
Chiefly British. A bowl for washing, typically attached to a wall and having taps connected to a water supply; a washbasin.
(also basin) (both especially British English) (also sink North American English, British English) (also especially North American English washbowl)
A large bowl that has taps/faucets and is fixed to the wall in a bathroom, used for washing your hands and face in.
The origin is Middle English: from Old French bacin, from medieval Latin bacinus, from bacca ‘water container’, perhaps of Gaulish origin.
It’s interesting to note in the definition for washbasin that it says: ‘also sink North American English’. I asked my father and American stepmother and they both use 'basin' for the bathroom and 'sink' for the kitchen. Maybe that’s his English influence as he said that some Americans do call a bathroom basin a sink ...
The answer then to ‘When is a basin a sink?’ would generally seem to be ‘When it is in the kitchen’ – unless you are American!
All definitions are taken from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/