There are 2 main definitions of cup in English:

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cup 1

Pronunciation: /kʌp/


1A small bowl-shaped container for drinking from, typically having a handle.
Example sentences
  • It shows men drinking from porcelain cups without handles, and coffee being served from a metal or earthenware jug.
  • Australians drink coffee in smaller cups, our baristas tend to swirl the milk a little less, and we have completely different terminology.
  • I nodded and he stood up, gathering the styrofoam containers and empty soft drink cups and crumpled napkins.
1.1The contents of a cup: a cup of tea
More example sentences
  • Jacket potatoes cost £1.30 and a cup of tea was 50 pence.
  • She says: ‘Next time I shall treat myself to more than a cup of tea!’
  • The restaurant's really good value for money - you can get a cup of coffee for only 85p!
1.2chiefly North American A measure of capacity used in cooking, equal to half a US pint (0.237 litre): a cup of butter
More example sentences
  • A dash serving is one cup of lettuce and half a cup of most other vegetables.
  • Then add one cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and half a cup of fresh lemon juice, and garnish with a few of the fresh herb leaves.
  • All it takes is 5 servings per day (a serving equals 1 slice of bread or half a cup of cooked grain).
1.3(In church use) a chalice used at the Eucharist: Latin was replaced by the vernacular, and the cup was offered to the laity
More example sentences
  • Apparently, he thought it looked a lot like the cups we use at church for communion.
  • The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not participation in the blood of Christ?…
  • If communion cups were a danger, he said, there would be cases of mass infections.
2An ornamental trophy in the form of a cup, usually made of gold or silver and having a stem and two handles, awarded as a prize in a sports contest.
Example sentences
  • Everyone makes their way back to the campground and Billy is awarded the gold cup as well as three hundred dollars in prize money.
  • He presented the cup, individual trophies and man of the match award.
  • It was Hughes who organised a horse-race on Vasil'evskii Island in July 1792 with a silver cup as the prize.
trophy, chalice;
award, prize
2.1 (Cup) A contest in which the winners are awarded a cup: playing in the Cup is the best thing ever
More example sentences
  • His record of winning six championships and three European Cups in eight years at Liverpool is second to none.
  • Your team has reached the semi finals of the Cup and it's your only chance of silverware this season.
  • I would rather go out of the Cup than lose league points under certain circumstances.
3A cup-shaped thing.
Example sentences
  • Carefully separate lettuce leaves and trim with scissors to form neat cups.
  • Thanks to an elastic band that connects the shoe's tongue to the sidewalls and a heel cup with a notch for your Achilles tendon, the fit is superb.
  • Drape the phyllo circles over the prepared molds to form into cups.
3.1Either of the two parts of a bra shaped to contain or support one breast: she had grown from an A to a C cup in just six months
More example sentences
  • Bigger cup sizes get a boost from halter necks which help support, while underwires lift and built-in cups define.
  • Look for a wide band for support, uplifting underwire, and cups made of sturdy rather than sheer fabric.
  • I pick up another bra, lift my breasts into the cups, fasten the back and arrange the straps.
3.2 Golf The hole on a putting green, or the metal container in it: the ball bounced out of the cup
More example sentences
  • Many golfers try to steer putts into the cup, especially when they can see the hole peripherally.
  • It will slow down just prior to taking the break, then fall toward the hole and into the cup from the top side.
  • But the ball lipped out of the cup on the 18th hole, meaning the Englishman's six points for his closing round ensured victory.
4 [mass noun] A mixed drink made from fruit juices and typically containing wine or cider: the bars offered large glasses of white wine cup a non-alcoholic fruit cup
punch, drink, mixed drink
5 (cups) One of the suits in a tarot pack.
Example sentences
  • Last September, I started with the swords and I moved on to the wands, and then to the cups.
  • It was the later French adaptation which changed swords to spades, wands to clubs, cups to hearts, and coins to diamonds.

verb (cups, cupping, cupped)

[with object]
1Form (one’s hand or hands) into the curved shape of a cup: ‘Hey!’ Dad shouted, with his hands cupped around his mouth
More example sentences
  • Two set of feet trampled the house, and Virginia cupped a hand over her mouth, trying to silence her heavy breathing and inevitable sobs.
  • A shrill roar rumbled out from its mouth, and he cupped his hands over his ears to try to block it out.
  • Slowly she lifted the lighter to her mouth and then cupped her hands around it to block the wind.
1.1Place the curved hand or hands around: he cupped her face in his hands
More example sentences
  • Julia pushes a strand of blonde hair out of her daughter's face and cups it in her hands.
  • Beneath the sheets, she cupped me and gave me a playful squeeze.
  • The dive leader cupped him under the belly and tickled him on the chin.
2 Medicine , historical Bleed (someone) by using a glass in which a partial vacuum is formed by heating: Dr Ross ordered me to be cupped
More example sentences
  • Among the ancient cultures, epilepsy was considered due to possession by spirits and gods and treated by trephening, cupping, and herbal and animal extracts.
  • They carried out procedures we now rate as complementary or alternative as well as some off the wall procedures (all of which are now back in use!) such as cupping, bleeding, the use of maggots and leeches.
  • Predictably, leeches, cupping, and blood letting take the centre stage of treatments.



in one's cups

informal Drunk: he became mellow and humorous when in his cups
More example sentences
  • But this particular night, at the school dance, he was in his cups - half a mickey of gin, to be exact, trying to repair his relationship with the wonderful woman who would soon become his wife and the mother of his three children.
  • Till the day he left, and no doubt still among the old guys in their cups, the Railway boss was known to all as ‘Call-me-Dave’.
  • It sounds like a question for law students in their cups, but it actually entered a federal courtroom earlier this year.

not one's cup of tea

informal Not what one likes or is interested in: cats were not her cup of tea
More example sentences
  • If sitting and listening is not your cup of tea, sightseeing in a drift boat makes for an interesting alternative.
  • And if running, dodging and shooting was not your cup of tea, there were car and motorcycle rallies, with dirt tracks and the grand prix.
  • If this is not your cup of tea or if you only have a few items for sale then, of course, they will take your items to their auction rooms, where they will be sold on your behalf.


Old English: from popular Latin cuppa, probably from Latin cupa 'tub'.

  • An Old English word, from Latin cuppa. As early as 1640 cup could mean ‘a sports trophy in the form of a cup’, originally for horse-racing. To be in your cups is to be drunk. In the past you could also use the phrase to mean ‘during a drinking bout’. It is unclear which meaning is intended in this passage in the biblical Apocrypha on the strength of wine: ‘And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords.’

Words that rhyme with cup

grown-up, pup, scup, straight-up, stuck-up, summing-up, sup, totting-up, two-up, up, washing-up

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cup

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There are 2 main definitions of cup in English:

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For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: CUP

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