Difference Between Braids and Plaits
By Andrew Parker - December 31, 2022

A braid is also known as a plait on occasion. Both terms refer to the hairdressing technique of interlacing two or more strands of flexible material, such as hair or textile threads and wire, to create intricate shapes or patterns. Sometimes a mixture of one or more materials is involved. However, there are subtle differences in the proper usage of these words.

Chart Summary

  1. The British English term for the technique where hair is woven together or with other materials
The American term for Plaits
  1. A single woven hairstyle
A complex hairstyle comprises multiple plaits and is usually paired with synthetic hair attachments to provide length.
Woman with braided hair

Getty images/ DigitalVision/Tim Robberts

Braids vs. Plaits

Except in the common language of the individuals who use them, there is no easily discernible difference between the two terms. Plait is primarily used by those who speak British English, whereas Braid is generally used by people who use American English. Even while certain forms are better defined as plaits or braids, the phrase defining the weaving technique is one of the two depending on the speaker’s origins.


As a hairstyle, plaiting is used to refer to simple styles that are woven to be loose and not so dense. This is easily achievable with straighter hair. Plaits can be done in intricate ribbed, stacked, roped, or crossed fashions. Plait styles include the French Braid, Dutch Braid, Fishtail, rope braid, and the simple 3-strand Braid. As a style, a braid is usually made up of multiple individual plaits. Each is divided into sections and then tightly and densely woven to the scalp. It is a common practice to include synthetic hair when making braids to give it length. Braids are typically found on curlier hairs as they hold the synthetic hair more. The synthetic hair is then sealed at the ends to prevent it from unraveling. This is done by soaking the hair tips in scalding hot water or passing over a small flame. The flame is also used to smoothen individual strands of synthetic hair that stick out of the plant.