What is a ‘Cup’ and What is a ‘Glass’ – Is there a Difference?
I first heard this discussion on a recent episode of the excellent podcast Judge John Hodgman. I then talked about with everyone I came into contact with about it, much to their annoyance, and found no satisfactory answers. So, I then turned to Facebook, where I asked the question that has been my latest white whale: What is a Cup?
More specifically, what do you call a cup? I thought it was a universal truth that if it is not made of glass it is a cup. If it is made of glass it is called a 'glass.' But, it turns out that there is as many interpretations of this as there are of what to call the mid-day and evening meals. By the way, it's lunch and dinner respectively, regardless of what my in-laws say (to confuse me).
So I asked folks on Facebook what they call these things we put liquid, and sometimes cake, in? The consensus is that there is no consensus.
Most people agree with me that if it is made of glass it is a 'glass' and everything else is called a 'cup.' But, there were some, well, I'll just say it, weirdos, that say that small cups are called 'tumblers' and the things with handles that you put coffee in are called 'mugs.' Or even worse, 'tea-cups.' 'Mugs' are for beer, both root and hops based, and maybe hot chocolate, but, that's it. And only on special occasions, visits to root beer-themed restaurants, and when trying to be clever. 'Tea-cups' are for children to play with.
Maybe I'm not the best person to dive into this query. After all, my cupboard is stocked mostly with souvenir cups and glass from various restaurants, sports stadiums, and fast food places. On a really special occasion, I may break out my McDonalds Batman Forever collector glasses. And I still dream of the really cool plastic cup I got at a Husker game in 1990 and that disappeared in a move. One of my wife's favorite cups is a plastic one she got at a Tennessee Titans game a few years ago. So, yea, maybe I'm not highfalutin enough to be a drinkware commentator.
Just like the sloppy joe, there is no rhyme or reason to what people call the things we put liquid in. It's doesn't even seem like where one grew up makes any difference, or the region where their family comes from.
Luckily, we all know what each other are talking about when we say 'glass' or 'cup,' so our society can continue to function in that aspect, at least. But, don't get m started on 'bag' versus 'sack' though.