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The meaning of «cup»

A cup is an open-top container used to hold liquids for pouring or drinking; it also can be used to store solids for pouring (e.g., sugar, flour, grains).[1][2] Cups may be made of glass, metal, china,[3] clay, wood, stone, polystyrene, plastic, aluminium or other materials, and are usually fixed with a stem, handles, or other adornments. Cups are used for quenching thirst across a wide range of cultures and social classes,[4] and different styles of cups may be used for different liquids or in different situations.[5] Cups of different styles may be used for different types of liquids or other foodstuffs (e.g. teacups and measuring cups), in different situations (e.g. at water stations or in ceremonies and rituals), or for decoration.[5][6]

Cups are an obvious improvement on using cupped hands or feet 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 stones.[7]

In ancient Mesopotamia, cups were made for a variety of purposes, possibly including the transportation and drinking of alcoholic beverages.[8]

There is an evidence that 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.[9][10] 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.[11] Around the Gulf of Mexico, Native American societies used the Horse conch for drinking cups, among other purposes.[12]

Ancient Egyptian lotiform cup; 1295-1185 BC; faience; height: 15 cm, diameter: 9.1 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Chinese cup and saucer; 1745; porcelain; diameter: 10.2 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

Sèvres cup and saucer, decorated with Gothic Revival ornaments and patterns; 1827; porcelain; overall: 8.2 x 10 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art

Art Nouveau cup; designed by Adolf Flad; 1902; porcelain; Bröhan Museum (Berlin, Germany)

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.

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,[13] and a silver divining cup played a key role in his reconciliation with his brothers.

Spa cups are special cups that are used to drink mineral or thermal water directly from a spring, developed in north-west Bohemia during the 17th century[14] and are now part of Czech folklore.

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