a beaker of coffee

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
‘The coffee machine is on the landing by the lifts.
<…>
Now, I like my coffee black, strong and no sugar, sort that out and then meet me in my office in two minutes.’
<…>
In two minutes, he was tapping on her door, then placing a beaker of coffee on the coaster on her desk.
Source: Crime on Fens

Is a beaker of coffee a mug of coffee or a jar of coffee that is part of the coffee machine? For some reason, google shows pictures of both. The lady or the tiger?

Thank you.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hard to say ... if it's just for her, then it would be a mug of coffee; if it's for sharing (or if she feels like drinking a lot), it could be a carafe, which, by the way, is the word I would expect. So I'd go with a beaker-like mug, rather than the glass carafe that holds an entire dump of coffee from the machine. If people like coffee, they generally like it hot – I wouldn't be taking the carafe away from the heating element on the coffee machine that keeps it hot.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You don’t hear it much these days, but in BE the word beaker used to be quite common, meaning a plastic mug.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Is a beaker a mug or a carafe? I do not know. I can not resolve the puzzle. I learnt it from reading Stephen King’s books:


    Nothing was coming. The trail was getting colder and he had nothing. The airport or the turnpike? The lady or the tiger?
    Source: Firestarter by Stephen King
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In my experience, "beaker" was in common use in Britain up to around 1960. It meant a drinking cup, often without a handle, made of metal, plastic or pottery. Suddenly in the 1960s we all seemed to be drinking out of "mugs" instead.

    However, I see from Google Ngram Viewer that this is not the national trend. Perhaps mine is a regional, class-related or purely personal experience?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Google Images is clearly under the impression that a beaker is now a measuring cup, rather than the plastic tumbler it used to be.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    However, I see from Google Ngram Viewer that this is not the national trend. Perhaps mine is a regional, class-related or purely personal experience?
    No, I'm from London. 'Beaker' was a common term when I was a (middle-class) child in the 60s to mean 'plastic mug'. My parents still have a couple of beakers with Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations by E. H. Shepard on them which we had as children (probably worth a small fortune now).
     
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    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In my experience, "beaker" was in common use in Britain up to around 1960.
    On Keeping Up Appearances (1990-95), Hyacinth always asks her neighbor if she wants her coffee in a beaker (an unbreakable mug) instead of a cup (her Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles).
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Interesting. Mugs, beakers -- I would call them both "cups."

    And I suspect that the "carafe" Copyright mentioned is something that I would call a coffeepot:

     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Interesting. Mugs, beakers -- I would call them both "cups."

    And I suspect that the "carafe" Copyright mentioned is something that I would call a coffeepot:
    The American use of “cup” is a bane to us Brits (Dear Americans, I'm fed up with your stupid cup measurements), who can only guess what’s meant by the woolly term a “cup” of something in a recipe. Having said that, I have recently invested in a set of American measuring spoons! :)

    And that coffee jug is not a carafe to us either. A carafe is wide-necked glass bottle without a lid into which you decant your red wine to let it breathe.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Precisely. But that’s what comes up when I ask for images for the single word “beaker”.
    My sister ran a lab for Merck in New Jersey. One of the lab assistants made coffee in a beaker. My sister had to tell her that if she did it again she would be fired. It is illegal to drink beverages from lab vessels in New Jersey. The reasoning behind it should be obvious.

    I don't know if it is illegal in other states, but it clearly is unwise.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    View attachment 25626 Unless it has a handle :D
    Yes. That image shows a "beaker" that is clearly not a lab beaker.

    OSHA does not seem to chime in on this. They do say: k) Eating, drinking, smoking, gum chewing, applying cosmetics, and taking medicine in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are used or stored should be strictly prohibited.

    I Googled "where is it legal to use a lab beaker for food or drink" and did not find legal references, but most schools and colleges seem to have some guidelines in that regard.

    Strangely I found this article (written by a scientist's wife): 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Using Lab Beakers In the Kitchen

    3 Reasons Why You Should Start Using Lab Beakers In the Kitchen
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Yes. That image shows a "beaker" that is clearly not a lab beaker...
    Clearly? It's got a test-tube on the logo, it's got a plus/minus 5% notice on the scale, and it's got the scale in reverse order for accurate pouring. And yet it has a handle and a drinkable rim...

    I'd say that image shows a "beaker" that is schizophrenically not a lab beaker.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, Keith. It's clearly not a lab beaker because it doesn't have a pouring lip and does have a handle. It looks like a mug specifically made for people who work in labs to drink their tea from.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You don’t hear it much these days, but in BE the word beaker used to be quite common, meaning a plastic mug.
    :cross:
    The Unique Art of the Coffee Beaker:cross:

    A beaker coffee mug is a neat mug that looks like a beaker and has measurements on the side to help you portion your coffee correctly.
    :cross:

    Google Images is clearly under the impression that a beaker is now a measuring cup, rather than the plastic tumbler it used to be.
    :cross:

    No, I'm from London. 'Beaker' was a common term when I was a (middle-class) child in the 60s to mean 'plastic mug'. My parents still have a couple of beakers with Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations by E. H. Shepard on them which we had as children (probably worth a small fortune now).
    :cross:

    My mother's word for what is now called a mug was "beaker". Not plastic, but pottery.:tick:

    And don't forget the Beaker culture Beaker culture - Wikipedia
    :tick:

    From 2400 BC to 1960 AD; RIP "The Beaker" (Beaker culture - Wikipedia):tick:

    The dictionary has "a large drinking cup or glass with a wide mouth." but I would add "without a handle" :cross:as the description of beakers that I grew up with (until I got into the chenistry lab, of course:))
    It is safe to conclude, totally ignoring all the foregoing discussion, that the beaker of coffee in post #1 is a personal item use to convey one person's coffee from the machine to the desk and thence to the mouth. There is nothing in the use of the term IN THIS CONTEXT that determines whether the item is made of glass, pottery, china, plastic, or whatever.
    A beaker has some very specific attributes.
    It contains MY drink (one person's drink).
    It has a handle (or possibly two).

    I think this word has a tendency to provoke strong reactions ... ... in me o_O
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    We were not given correct or sufficient source details, or adequate context.
    Apart from that, I'm laughing so much I haven't time to have a minor nervous breakdown over the thread that has resulted. It's truly wonderful how a seemingly simple word can have such different connotations.

    Andy's post pretty well sums up my beaker position.
    My mother's word for what is now called a mug was "beaker". Not plastic, but pottery.

    And don't forget the Beaker culture Beaker culture - Wikipedia :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    As a passionate British prehistorian, the 'Beaker Folk' are my very first connotation.
    As a normal person, 'beaker', whatever it's made from, does not have a handle.

    With permission, I quote verbatim my Oxford scholar, very patient, British husband in the following dialogue.

    Me: Darling, what does the word 'beaker' mean to you?
    Him: Some ancient civilisation.
    Me: Is that all?
    Him: :rolleyes: + (An emoji that means something like 'Oh for heavens's sake!') I suppose it's something like a mug without an handle. Have I passed? If not, I don't want to know.

    :D
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    As a passionate British prehistorian,:thumbsup::) the 'Beaker Folk' are my very first connotation.
    As a normal person, 'beaker', whatever it's made from, does not have a handle.
    I did some google searches for a few images each of toothbrush beaker; ceramic beaker; clay beaker; plastic drinking beaker. I found a vanishingly small number of items with handles:D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think that much depends on how you picture the office coffee machine.

    The ones I have experience of are more like this
    coffee-machine-peet-s-coffee.jpg


    than like this
    bunn-commercial-850x850.jpg
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ...It is safe to conclude, totally ignoring all the foregoing discussion, that the beaker of coffee in post #1 is a personal item use to convey one person's coffee from the machine to the desk and thence to the mouth...
    Panjandrum, what's got into you? You can't just say "totally ignoring all the foregoing discussion" when we're trying to define a term that has several possible interpretations. For what it's worth, I agree with most of the ones you put your seigneurial ":cross:" against!
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Panjandrum, what's got into you? You can't just say "totally ignoring all the foregoing discussion" when we're trying to define a term that has several possible interpretations. For what it's worth, I agree with most of the ones you put your seigneurial :cross: against!
    This is an English-only forum.:)

    I've never heard anyone refer to a "beaker" as a drinking vessel.

    I have seen "test tubes" used for serving shots of alcohol.

     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've never heard anyone refer to a "beaker" as a drinking vessel.
    OXFORD - British English dictionary
    beaker
    NOUN
    British
    1. A drinking container, typically made of plastic
    1.1 A lipped cylindrical glass container for laboratory use​

    OXFORD - American English dictionary
    beaker
    NOUN
    1. A lipped cylindrical glass container for laboratory use
    1.1 British A drinking container, typically made of plastic​
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    OXFORD - British English dictionary
    beaker
    NOUN
    British
    1. A drinking container, typically made of plastic
    1.1 A lipped cylindrical glass container for laboratory use​

    OXFORD - American English dictionary
    beaker
    NOUN
    1. A lipped cylindrical glass container for laboratory use
    1.1 British A drinking container, typically made of plastic​
    I acknowledge the usage, I stand by my statement. I've never heard anyone use it like that.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Nice to see an example of what my mother called a beaker. Anybody who says emphatically that a beaker does not have a handle is patently wrong. There are posts in this thread by native English speakers who include drinking vessels with handles within the group "beakers". To some speakers they never have handles, to others they sometimes do.

    And as for Oxford Dictionaries saying "typically plastic" the Beaker culture had beakers long before there was plastic. :rolleyes:
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Sigma-Aldrich, a company that makes laboratory glassware, shows this item:



    It is shown alongside a coffee mug imprinted with the periodic table, so clearly this is a novelty item and not meant for lab work.

    Their description reads:

    General description
    Made from 100% borosilicate glass with white, easy to read, graduations on back. With a 300 mL capacity, the large side handle stays cool when hot liquids are inside. These beaker mugs are heatproof, ovenproof, microwave and dishwasher safe.

    The attached handle eliminates the need for clumsy gripping devices when handling hot liquids. Beakers are made of lightweight glass that is durable and has excellent heat transfer properties for rapid heating and cooling
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    I have just finished reading this novel by Joy Ellis and saw this glossary at the back:

    Glossary of English Slang for US readers
    A & E: Accident and emergency department in a hospital
    Aggro: Violent behaviour, aggression
    A Level: exams taken between 16 and 18 Barm: bread roll
    Barney: argument
    Beaker: glass or cup for holding liquids
    <……>
    Source: Crime on the Fens by Joy Ellis.
     
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