A cup is a small open container used for drinking and carrying
drinks. It can be made of wood, plastic, glass, clay, metal,
stone, china or other materials, and it might have a stem, handles
or other adornments. Cups are used for quenching thirst across a wide
range of cultures and social classes, and different styles of cups
may be used for different liquids or in different situations.
Cups have been used for thousands of years for the purpose of carrying
food and drink, as well as for decoration. They are mostly used for
drinking, though. They are used in certain cultural rituals and to
hold objects not intended for drinking such as coins.
1.1 Cups for hot beverages
1.2 Disposable cups
1.3 Cups for alcoholic beverages
2 Cultural significance and use of cups
2.1 Cultural use and connotation
2.2 Religious use
2.3 Culinary use
2.5 Child development
2.6 Sports trophies
2.8 Promotional cups
3.1 The King's cup
6 External links
Names for different types of cups vary regionally and may overlap. Any
transparent cup, regardless of actual composition, is likely to be
called a "glass"; therefore, while a cup made of paper is a "paper
cup", a transparent one for drinking shots is called a "shot glass",
Cups for hot beverages
Teacups on saucers
While in theory, most cups are well suited to hold drinkable liquids,
hot drinks like tea are generally served in either insulated cups or
Disposable cups are intended to be used only once. They are often
used by fast-food restaurants and coffee shops to serve beverages.
Institutions that provide drinking water, such as offices and
hospitals, may also use disposable cups for sanitary reasons.
Cups for alcoholic beverages
Some styles of cups are used primarily for alcoholic beverages such as
beer, wine, cocktail, and liquor. There are over a dozen distinct
styles of cups for drinking beer, depending on the precise variety of
beer. The idea that a certain beer should be served in a cup of a
certain shape may have been promulgated more for marketing purposes,
but there very well may be some basis in fact behind it. Wine
glasses also come in different shapes, depending on the color and
style of wine that is intended to be served in them.
Old Fashioned glass
Sake cup (ochoko)
Cultural significance and use of cups
Since cups have been an integral part of dining since time immemorial,
they have become a valued part of human culture. The shape or image of
a cup appears in various places in human cultures.
Cultural use and connotation
Solo cups (especially red ones) carry strong cultural connotations,
especially in America, generally referring to the consumption of
Spa cups are a special cup used to drink mineral or thermal water
directly from a spring, developed in north-west Bohemia during the
17th century and are now part of Czech folklore.
A two-handled Natla (נַטְלָה) cup used for ritual washing in
In the Christian ritual of Communion, adherents drink from a cup of
wine (or a wine substitute) to commemorate the
Last Supper of
Jesus. A chalice is often used for this purpose.
Ancient Greek religious practices included libations. The rhyton was
one cup used for libations.
The measuring cup, an adaptation of a simple cup, is a standard tool
in cooking that has been in use at least as far back as Roman times.
Apart from serving as drinking vessels, cups can be used as an
alternative to bowls as a receptacle, especially, for soup. Recipes
have been published for cooking various dishes in cups in the
Chalices are sometimes used in heraldry, especially ecclesiastical
Kronkåsa is a type of elaborate wooden cup which was used
Swedish nobility during the Renaissance.
Drinking from a cup is a significant step on a baby's path to becoming
a toddler; it is recommended that children switch from bottles to cups
between six months and one year of age. Sippy cups are
typically used for this transition.
Many trophies take the form of a cup, often a loving cup. In sports,
competitions themselves often take on the name of the cup-shaped
Many trophies take the form of a large, decorated cup. In cases such
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup and the Stanley Cup, the competition itself may
grow to take on the name of the trophy that is awarded to the winner.
Owing to the common usage of cup-shaped trophies as prizes for the
winners, a large number of national and international competitions are
Tarot divination, the suit of cups is associated with the element
of water and is regarded as symbolizing emotion, intuition, and the
soul. Cards that feature cups are often associated with love,
relationships, fears, and desires.
Various cups have been designed so that drinking out of them without
spilling is a challenge. These are called puzzle cups.
The cup game involves rhythmically striking plastic cups.
In the developed world, cups are often distributed for promotional
purposes. For example, a corporation might distribute cups with their
logo at a trade show, or a city might hand out cups with slogans
promoting recycling. There are companies that provide the service of
printing slogans on cups.
Cups are an obvious improvement on using cupped hands to hold liquids.
They have almost certainly been used since before recorded history,
and have been found at archaeological sites throughout the world.
Prehistoric cups were sometimes fashioned from shells and hollowed out
An ancient stoneware (terracotta) cup from the
Sa Huynh culture
(modern Viet Nam)
In Mesopotamia, cups were made for a variety of purposes, possibly
including the transportation and drinking of alcoholic beverages.
There is evidence the
Roman Empire may have spread the use of cups
throughout Europe, with notable examples including silver cups in
Wales and a color-changing glass cup in ancient Thrace. In
England, cups have been discovered which date back to several thousand
years, including the Rillaton Gold Cup, about 3,700 years old. Cups
were used in the
Americas several centuries prior to the European
arrivals. Around the Gulf of Mexico, Native American societies
used the Horse conch for drinking cups, among other purposes.
The King's cup
Historically, monarchs have been concerned about assassination via
poisoning. To avoid this fate, they often used dedicated cups, with
cup-bearers to guard them. A "divining cup" was supposed to be able to
detect poison. In the Bible, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh's
cup-bearer, and a silver divining cup played a key role in his
reconciliation with his brothers.
Cup of hot chocolate
33rd America's Cup
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^ Examples include a hollowed stone used to hold pigment for cave
painting (see History of technology), and mussel shells used to hold
cosmetics, examples of which have been found in Egyptian burial sites
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Media related to Cups at Wikimedia Commons
Gallery of cups in The Metropol