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Pushpin vs. Thumbtack: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 27, 2024
A pushpin is a small, plastic-headed pin for attaching items to a board, whereas a thumbtack is a flat-headed metal tack used for the same purpose.

Key Differences

Pushpins are characterized by their plastic, sometimes cylindrical or spherical heads, making them easy to grip and use. Thumbtacks, on the other hand, usually have a flat or slightly rounded metal head.
Pushpins are often used in offices or classrooms for pinning items on bulletin boards, while thumbtacks are more versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including walls.
The design of a pushpin is such that it is less likely to injure fingers, thanks to its larger, easier-to-handle head. Thumbtacks, with their smaller, flat heads, require more precision and can be more difficult to handle.
Pushpins come in various colors and designs, often used to add a decorative aspect to bulletin boards. Thumbtacks are more functional in appearance, typically metallic and less varied in color.
In terms of durability, pushpins, with their plastic heads, are less likely to rust or corrode compared to the metal heads of thumbtacks.

Comparison Chart

Head Material


Head Shape

Cylindrical or spherical
Flat or slightly rounded

Ease of Use

Easier to grip and use
Requires more precision


Colorful and decorative
Functional, typically metallic


Less prone to rust
More susceptible to corrosion

Pushpin and Thumbtack Definitions


Bulletin Board Pin.
A pushpin is ideal for pinning items on corkboards.


Precision Pin.
Carefully place the thumbtack to avoid pricking your finger.


Plastic-Headed Fastener.
Use a pushpin to attach the notice to the bulletin board.


Versatile Tack.
Thumbtacks can be used on various surfaces.


Office Supply.
We need more pushpins for the office board.


Flat-Headed Metal Pin.
He used a thumbtack to hang the poster on the wall.


Decorative Pin.
The colorful pushpins brightened the classroom board.


Functional Fastener.
Thumbtacks are essential for securing papers.


Gripping Pin.
She easily inserted the pushpin without hurting her fingers.


Metallic Pin.
The metallic thumbtack was hardly noticeable against the board.


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


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


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


To affix with a thumbtack.


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


(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


Can thumbtacks be used on all surfaces?

Mostly, but effectiveness varies with surface type.

Do pushpins come in different colors?

Yes, they are often colorful and decorative.

What is a thumbtack?

A small metal tack with a flat head for similar purposes.

What is a pushpin?

A small pin with a plastic head for attaching items to boards.

What's the primary use of pushpins?

Mainly for attaching papers to bulletin boards.

Are pushpins safe for children?

Yes, generally safer due to their larger heads.

Are thumbtacks more durable than pushpins?

Metal heads can be more durable but prone to rust.

Do thumbtacks come in different sizes?

Yes, there are various sizes available.

Can pushpins be used on fabric?

Yes, but they may not hold as securely as on corkboards.

Can pushpins hold heavy items?

They're better for lighter materials.

Are pushpins expensive?

They are generally affordable.

Can I use thumbtacks for craft projects?

Yes, they are quite versatile for crafts.

Are thumbtacks reusable?

Yes, they can be used multiple times.

Can thumbtacks damage walls?

Yes, they can leave small holes.

Are thumbtacks suitable for outdoor use?

They can be used outdoors but may corrode in harsh weather.

How do I safely dispose of thumbtacks?

Place them in a container to avoid injury and dispose of them with sharp objects.

How many thumbtacks come in a standard pack?

Varies, but packs often contain dozens.

Are pushpins easy to remove?

Yes, their design makes them easy to grip and remove.

Do pushpins rust?

Their plastic heads don't rust, but the metal pin might over time.

Can pushpins be used on drywall?

Yes, but they may not hold as securely as on corkboards.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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