1. a small, open container made of china, glass, metal, etc., usually having a handle and used chiefly as a receptable from which to drink tea, soup, etc.
  2. the bowllike part of a goblet or the like.
  3. a cup with its contents.
  4. the quantity contained in a cup.
  5. a unit of capacity, equal to 8 fluid ounces (237 milliliters) or 16 tablespoons; half-pint.
  6. an ornamental bowl, vase, etc., especially of precious metal, offered as a prize for a contest.
  7. any of various beverages, as a mixture of wine and various ingredients: claret cup.
  8. the chalice used in the Eucharist.
  9. the wine of the Eucharist.
  10. something to be partaken of or endured; one's portion, as of joy or suffering.
  11. cups, the drinking of intoxicating liquors.
  12. any cuplike utensil, organ, part, cavity, etc.
  13. either of the two forms that cover and usually support the breasts in a brassiere or other garment, as a bathing suit.
  14. an athletic supporter reinforced with rigid plastic or metal for added protection.
  15. Golf.
    1. the metal receptacle within the hole.
    2. the hole itself.
  16. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Crater.
  17. cupping glass.
  18. Metalworking. a cylindrical shell closed at one end, especially one produced in the first stages of a deep-drawing operation.
  19. Mathematics. the cuplike symbol ∪, used to indicate the union of two sets.Compare union(def 10a).
verb (used with object), cupped, cup·ping.
  1. to take or place in, or as in, a cup: He cupped his ear with the palm of his hand.
  2. to form into a cuplike shape: He cupped his hands.
  3. to use a cupping glass on.
  4. Metalworking. to form (tubing, containers, etc.) by punching hot strip or sheet metal and drawing it through a die.Compare deep-draw.
  1. in one's cups, intoxicated; drunk.

Origin of cup

before 1000; Middle English, Old English cuppe < Latin cuppa, variant of cūpa tub, cask
Related formscup·like, adjectiveun·der·cup, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cups

Contemporary Examples of cups

Historical Examples of cups

  • His name was Cup and he too had inherited his land from a hundred other Cups who had gone before.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • It is for me to fill your cups again, since you have drained them to my dear lads of the white jerkin.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • She fairly put us into chairs, and brought us cups of something—I don't know what.

  • She went to the scullery and returned with cups and saucers which she put on the table.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • She washed the cups and some other things before she stopped in her work to listen.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for cups


  1. a small open container, usually having one handle, used for drinking from
  2. the contents of such a containerthat cup was too sweet
  3. Also called: teacup, cupful a unit of capacity used in cooking equal to approximately half a pint, 8 fluid ounces, or about one quarter of a litre
  4. something resembling a cup in shape or function, such as the flower base of some plants of the rose family or a cuplike bodily organ
  5. either of two cup-shaped parts of a brassiere, designed to support the breasts
  6. a cup-shaped trophy awarded as a prize
  7. British
    1. a sporting contest in which a cup is awarded to the winner
    2. (as modifier)a cup competition
  8. a mixed drink with one ingredient as a base, usually served from a bowlclaret cup
  9. golf the hole or metal container in the hole on a green
  10. the chalice or the consecrated wine used in the Eucharist
  11. one's lot in life
  12. in one's cups drunk
  13. one's cup of tea informal one's chosen or preferred thing, task, company, etcshe's not my cup of tea
verb cups, cupping or cupped (tr)
  1. to form (something, such as the hands) into the shape of a cup
  2. to put into or as if into a cup
  3. archaic to draw blood to the surface of the body of (a person) by using a cupping glass
Derived Formscuplike, adjective

Word Origin for cup

Old English cuppe, from Late Latin cuppa cup, alteration of Latin cūpa cask
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cups



late 14c., "to draw blood by cupping," from cup (n.). Meaning "to form a cup" is from 1830. Related: Cupped; cupping.



Old English cuppe, from Late Latin cuppa "cup" (source of Italian coppa, Spanish copa, Old French coupe "cup"), from Latin cupa "tub, cask, tun, barrel," from PIE *keup- "a hollow" (cf. Sanskrit kupah "hollow, pit, cave," Greek kype "a kind of ship," Old Church Slavonic kupu, Lithuanian kaupas).

The Late Latin word was borrowed throughout Germanic; cf. Old Frisian kopp "cup, head," Middle Low German kopp "cup," Middle Dutch coppe, Dutch kopje "cup, head." German cognate Kopf now means exclusively "head" (cf. French tête, from Latin testa "potsherd"). Meaning "part of a bra that holds a breast" is from 1938. [One's] cup of tea "what interests one" (1932), earlier used of persons (1908), the sense being "what is invigorating."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cups in Medicine


  1. A cup-shaped structure or organ.
  2. cupping glass
  3. A unit of capacity or volume equal to 16 tablespoons or 8 fluid ounces.
  1. To subject a person or body part to the therapeutic procedure of cupping.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with cups


In addition to the idiom beginning with cup

  • cup of tea, one's

also see:

  • in one's cups
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.