Jug (container)

Jug (container)
An Irish pottery water jug
Silver hot water jug, Dublin c1770, using a coffee-pot shape with a higher base.

A jug is a type of container used to hold liquid. It has an opening, often narrow, from which to pour or drink, and nearly always has a handle. One could imagine a jug being made from nearly any watertight material, but most jugs throughout history have been made from clay, glass, or plastic. Some Native American and other tribes created liquid holding vessels by making woven baskets lined with an asphaltum sealer. The slang term jug can also be used describe the breast of a woman, short for milk jug.[1]

In American English usage, a jug is a large container with a narrow mouth and handle for liquids. In British English, and generally in English speaking countries outside North America, usage, a jug is any container with a handle and a mouth and spout for liquid - American "pitchers" are more likely to be called jugs elsewhere.


Beer jug

In certain countries, especially New Zealand and Australia, a 'Jug' refers to a jug (usually plastic) containing exactly 2 pints (just over a litre) of beer. It is usually served along with one or more small glasses from which the beer is normally consumed, although in some student bars it is more common for the beer to be drunk directly from the jug, which is usually served without the accompanying glass. (In the U.S., this may be called a pitcher -- although few U.S. pitchers are as small as a litre, generally holding between 64 and 128 U.S. fluid ounces, approximately 2-4 litres. In New Zealand and Australia a pitcher likewise refers a much larger measure of beer).

Toby Jug

A typical toby jug with a three-cornered hat.

A Toby Jug - also sometimes known as a Fillpot (or Philpot) - is a pottery jug in the form of a seated person, or the head of a recognizable person (often an English king). Typically the seated figure is a heavily-set, jovial man holding a mug of beer in one hand and a pipe of tobacco in the other and wearing 18th century attire: a long coat and a tricorn hat. The tricorn hat forms a pouring spout, often with a removable lid, and a handle is attached at the rear. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure are also referred to as Toby Jugs, although these should strictly be called "Character Jugs".

The original Toby Jug, with a brown salt glaze, was developed and popularised by Staffordshire potters in the 1760s. It is thought to be a development of similar Delft jugs that were produced in the Netherlands. Similar designs were produced by other potteries, first in Staffordshire, then around England, and eventually in other countries. The Jug in the form of a Head, Self-portrait by Paul Gaugin is an unusual example from fine art.

There are competing theories for the origin of the name "Toby Jug".[2] It was named after the character of Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night. He was an intoxicated, jovial man. It was named after a notorious 18th century Yorkshire drinker, Henry Elwes, who was known as "Toby Fillpot" (or Philpot). It was inspired by an old English drinking song, "The Brown Jug", which paid tribute to Toby Fillpot; the popular verses were first published in 1761.

In the book and film "12 O'Clock High!" a Toby Jug depicting Robin Hood is used as a signal in the Officer's Club, to discreetly warn aircrews that there will be a mission the following day, without spilling the beans to outsiders who might be visiting. This Toby Jug plays a pivotal role in the film.

The American Toby Jug Museum is located on Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Illinois.

Puzzle jug

Puzzle jug

A puzzle jug is a puzzle in the form of a jug. The challenge of the puzzle — to drink the contents without spillage — is often written on the jug. This is certainly impossible to do in the conventional way because the neck of the jug is perforated. Examples of such inscriptions include: Fill me up with licker sweet for it is good when fun us do meet; Gentlemen now try your Skill I'll hold your Sixpence if you Will That you dony drink unless you spill.[1]; Here Gentlemen come try your skill, I'll hold a wager if you will, That you don't drink this liquor all, Without you spill and let some fall.[2]

The earliest example in England is the Exeter puzzle jug — a fine example of medieval pottery in Britain. The Exeter puzzle jug dates from about 1300AD and was originally made in Saintonge, Western France.[3]

Puzzle jugs were popular in homes and taverns. Puzzle jugs were most popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. The quality of pieces varied from quite basic to very fine.

The solution to the puzzle is that the jug has a hidden tube. What looks like the spout is, in fact, one end of a tube which usually runs around the rim of the jug and then down the handle to open inside the jug near the bottom. To obtain the contents, one has to suck on the tube. To make the puzzle more interesting, it was common to provide a number of additional holes on the tube that must be closed off before the contents can be sucked up.

The puzzle jug is a descendant of earlier drinking puzzles, the fuddling cup and the pot crown; the solution to the conundrum being different in each case.

As a musical instrument

A jug player

In American folk music, an empty jug is sometimes used as a musical instrument, being played with buzzed lips to produce a trombone-like tone. It is often part of a jug band, to which ensemble it lends its name.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jug Etymology of jug
  2. ^ Dale, Jean (2003) [1991]. Royal Doulton Jugs. A Charlton Standard Catalogue (7th ed.). North York, Canada: The Charlton Press. p. vii. ISBN 0-88968-280-1. 


  1. ^ Puzzle jug from the Buckley Heritage Centre.
  2. ^ Puzzle jug, Liverpool, about 1750.
  3. ^ The Exeter Puzzle Jug.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jug — may refer to:* Jug (container), a vessel for liquids * Jug (musical instrument), used for rhythmic bass accompaniment * A crossbreed between a Pug and a Jack Russell Terrier * Java User Group (JUG), a group of people who meet to discuss the Java… …   Wikipedia

  • jug — jug1 [jug] n. [echoic] a sound meant to imitate a nightingale s note vi. jugged, jugging to make a nightingale s sound or a sound imitating this jug2 [jug] n. [apparently a pet form of JUDITH or JOAN] …   English World dictionary

  • jug — [dʒʌg] n [Date: 1400 1500; Origin: Perhaps from the female name Jug, given to ugly women, from Joan] 1.) BrE a container with a wide curved opening at the top and a handle, used especially at meals for pouring liquids American Equivalent: pitcher …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • jug — ► NOUN 1) Brit. a cylindrical container with a handle and a lip, for holding and pouring liquids. 2) N. Amer. a large container for liquids, with a narrow mouth. 3) (the jug) informal prison. 4) (jugs) vulgar slang a woman s breasts. ► VERB ( …   English terms dictionary

  • jug — [ dʒʌg ] noun count * 1. ) MAINLY BRITISH a PITCHER a ) the liquid in a jug or the amount a jug contains: a jug of apple cider 2. ) AMERICAN a large container for liquids, with a very narrow top that can be closed by a CORK …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • jug — [n] container for liquid amphora, beaker, bottle, bucket, canteen, carafe, crock, cruet, decanter, ewer, flagon, flask, growler, hooker, jar, pitcher, pot, tub, urn, vase, vessel; concept 494 …   New thesaurus

  • container — [n] holder for physical object alembic, bag, beaker, bin, bottle, bowl, box, bucket, bunker, caisson, can, canister, canteen, capsule, carafe, carton, cask, casket, cauldron, chamber, chest, churn, cistern, cradle, crate, crock, dish, ewer,… …   New thesaurus

  • jug — jug1 /jug/, n., v., jugged, jugging. n. 1. a large container usually made of earthenware, metal, or glass, commonly having a handle, a narrow neck, and sometimes a cap or cork. 2. the contents of such a container; jugful: a jug of wine. 3. Slang …   Universalium

  • jug */ — UK [dʒʌɡ] / US noun [countable] Word forms jug : singular jug plural jugs 1) a) British a container from which you pour liquids such as water or milk. The usual American word is pitcher a measuring jug b) the liquid in a jug, or the amount that a …   English dictionary

  • jug — [[t]dʒʌg[/t]] n. v. jugged, jug•ging 1) a large container usu. of earthenware, metal, or glass, commonly having a handle and a narrow neck, sometimes with a cap or cork 2) the contents of such a container; jugful 3) sts Slang. jail; prison 4) cvb …   From formal English to slang

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