Have you ever looked at measuring tape/tape measure for UK/US? A Canadian friend said she uses the first for the bendy fabric kind and the second for the more rigid, retractable builders' kind.And I said 'That's how I do it too. What do you do?' Since this was on Facebook, I now know that I know four Englishpeople who say tape measure for both. Everyone who's commented so far follows the English/North American division that Emma and her Canadian friend observed.
In other words, I learned to call this a measuring tape:
|Photo by Ben Watkins: https://www.flickr.com/photos/falcifer/|
and this a tape measure:
|Photo by redjar: https://www.flickr.com/photos/redjar/with/136165399/|
...and my BrE-speaking friends call them both tape measure.
What's interesting is that neither the North American semantic distinction nor the North America/UK difference is recorded in most dictionaries. They (both UK and US ones) tend to say measuring tape is another word for tape measure (Merriam-Webster [learner's dictionary], Oxford). Collins has measuring tape as an alternative for tape measure in its British English listings, but doesn't include it at all in American English. The American Heritage Dictionary doesn't have measuring tape at all. (The OED's first record for measuring tape is in 1805. Tape measure is 1873.)
Now, before you say 'maybe the distinction is a regional Americanism', note that Emma's friend is from western Canada, I'm from New York state and another Californian friend has reported that he makes the same distinction. There doesn't seem to be anything else similar among us either--male and female, people who sew and people who don't. Searching on Amazon.com, the distinction is not solid, but it's a tendency--one sees more of the metal things if searching 'tape measure' and more of the cloth things when searching 'measuring tape'. (The corpora just tell us that both terms are used in both countries.)
What the dictionaries do tend to tell us is that tape line is an American alternative for tape measure--but this is a term that's completely new to me. There is only one US example in the Corpus of Global Web-Based English, and in that one the author felt the need to clarify that they meant 'some kind of measuring tape of some sort'. In the Corpus of Contemporary American English, only one of the eight examples of tape line (as part of surveyors' tools) might be relevant--most are about making a line of tape (e.g. on a floor). And in the Corpus of Historical American English, the most recent relevant example is from the 1930s. The original citation in the OED is from Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1847), and it seems to have just been repeated in dictionaries ever since. So this looks much less current than the measuring tape/tape measure distinction. Attention lexicographers!