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Key Difference – Butler vs Maid

Butler and maid are two domestic workers in a grand household. A butler is the main manservant of a household whereas a maid is a female domestic servant. There is a difference between butler and maid based on their responsibilities, gender and the hierarchical position. A maid is engaged in the domestic work of a household such as cleaning, cooking, and washing whereas a butler is involved in the supervision of all other servants. This distinction in the hierarchical position is the key difference between butler and maid.


  1. Overview and Key Difference
  2. Who is a Butler
  3. Who is a Maid
  4. Side by Side Comparison – Butler vs Maid

Who is a Butler?

A butler is the main manservant of a large household who is in charge of all other male servants. Butlers are usually male, and their rough female equivalent is housekeepers although their responsibilities may differ. Butlers are also known by different names such as majordomo, staff manager, chief of staff, house manager, estate manager and head of household staff. As these names imply, butler is in charge of the management of the other staff. They are typically the most senior workers in a household.

Responsibilities of a Butler

  • Supervising and managing the household staff
  • Managing the household budget and organizing events
  • Serving meals and drinks, setting the table and serving formal meals
  • Greeting guests and answering the telephone
  • Supervising the pantry, wine cellar and kitchen.
  • Assisting the family with security measures.

The responsibilities of a butler may vary depending on the employer’s lifestyle. However, butlers are generally expected to remain invisible, but available at all times. They are typically live-in positions and may require traveling with the employer. Respecting the privacy and confidentially of the employer is another major responsibility of a butler. They may be also required to perform valet duties and light housekeeping. Thus, they should be flexible in terms of tasks and schedule.

Key Difference - Butler vs Maid

Who is a Maid?

A maid is a female who is employed in domestic service. A maid is also known as maidservant or house maid. Although maids are only seen in extremely wealthy households at present, many households used to employ maids in the past. It used to be the second largest category of employment in Victorian England. In the contemporary western society, only a few households can afford to employee maids; however, maids are still commonly used in developing countries where there is a large income gap between the rural and urban classes.

Maids are usually entrusted with duties such as cooking, cleaning the house, washing, ironing, grocery shopping, looking after children and pets, taking care of elderly or disabled people.

Maids in large households had different positions and hierarchies. All maids in a household were under the supervision of the housekeeper. Given below are some of these positions.

Types of Maids

Lady’s maid

– a personal attendant of the lady of the house. Although lower in position than a housekeeper, they reported directed to the lady and were in a better position than other maids.


– a generic term for maids who were engaged in housework ‘above stairs’. There were different subcategories as chambermaid, parlour maid, laundry maid, etc. Housemaids are typically more experienced and better paid than kitchen maids.

Kitchen maid  

– Kitchen maids reported to the cook and assisted in the kitchen.

Scullery maid

– Scullery maids were the lowest grade in maids and were responsible for cleaning cutlery, crockery and scrubbing kitchen floors.

Nursery maid

– Nursery maids worked in the nursery and reported to the nanny.

Difference Between Butler and Maid

What is the difference between Butler and Maid?

Butler vs Maid

Butler is the chief manservant in a household. Maid is a female domestic servant.
Men are generally hired as butlers. Maids are always women.
Butlers are in charge of male servants such as footmen, valets, etc. Maids are under the supervision of the housekeeper.
Butler is considered to be a much more prestigious and superior position than maid. There is a hierarchy among maids; lady’s maid is at the top and scullery maid is at the lowest position.
Butler’s responsibilities include supervising the staff, taking charge of the pantry, wine cellar and dining room, organizing events, greeting guests,  managing the budget, etc. Maid’s duties involve cleaning the house, laundry, cooking or assisting the cook, washing dishes, taking care of the children, pets, elderly and disabled people, etc.
Butlers are typically more educated and trained than maids. Maids may be untrained, semi-trained or uneducated

Image Courtesy: 

“ModelC5 1912” By Nilfisk-Advance (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“White House Butlers Pantry” By U.S. government –  (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia