Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Does anyone know what the word/name for the small plastic cup things that contain liquids (like half and half for coffee) is?

Right now I’m using sachet because a coworker started to do so, but I’ve never heard them being called that (looked it up and apparently it's legit).

I’ve thought of packets but I feel like there might be a proper word for it. Also, what do people call it in everyday usage? I don’t drink coffee so I’ve never really had to think about it.

share|improve this question
3  
I wouldn't call it a sachet; that's a bag or wrapper, as in the illustration in the Wikipedia article. –  MετάEd Oct 3 '12 at 15:42
    
@tchrist yeah the little cuppy thingies. The ones I open just for fun sometimes haha –  im so confused Oct 3 '12 at 15:50
    
@tchrist - love that you think like me! –  Kristina Lopez Oct 3 '12 at 17:58
1  
I wouldn't call any of these things a sachet - although apparently that is a usable term. I've heard of creamers with the cream, and packets of ketchup, but I'd probably expect some odd looks if I asked for a sachet of mustard, for example. –  J.R. Oct 4 '12 at 13:50
4  
I vote we call them cuppy thingies. –  GEdgar Oct 5 '12 at 20:19

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The industry appears to refer to them as both tubs and cups, often combined with the adjectival phrase portion control. Examples:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Hmm, in my mind tubs would insinuate a larger container, but I'm starting to like cups. Thanks, I'll leave this for a little bit so I don't accept too soon! –  im so confused Oct 3 '12 at 15:50
    
Industrial terms often apply independently of scale: this‌​, for example, is a nut and bolt. –  MετάEd Oct 3 '12 at 16:03
    
Downvoter: care to leave a constructive suggestion for improving the answer? –  MετάEd Oct 3 '12 at 16:05
    
@MetaEd yeah, I guess that does make sense, but the detail I failed to provide was that this is being used in an explanation of a technical detail, so I guess I'm looking for the word that would more readily bring that object I'm describing to mind rather than a technically correct one. Does that make any sense? That's why I think cup is going to be the go-to word here unless you have any more suggestions. –  im so confused Oct 3 '12 at 16:14
    
I wouldn't hesitate to call them cups, tubs, or creamers (suggested by @mr-shiny-and-new in his answer). –  MετάEd Oct 3 '12 at 16:20

I have heard these things called creamers, probably in reference to the non-disposable variety.

A creamer is a small pitcher or jug designed for holding cream or milk to be served with tea or coffee in the Western tradition. Creamers can be earthenware or porcelain, but also made of silver or other metals; a creamer is an obligatory part of a coffee or tea set, whether in silver or ceramics. -- from Wikipedia

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 Very interesting! I've never heard of it being used as the vessel rather than the contents. However, if you look at the comment I posted on @MetaEd's answer, in my opinion those words bring the object I'm describing to mind rather than creamer. Would you agree with that statement? To me, instinctively the word describes the additive. –  im so confused Oct 3 '12 at 16:18
    
+1 Never thought about it before (like many things before SE!) but I guess we do refer to them as creamers in the office. "Toss me a creamer!" –  Kristina Lopez Oct 3 '12 at 17:57
    
+1. I don't think that "creamer" refers to the non-disposable vessel in this case (although that is another sense of the word). I think this is the right answer because those little cups frequently hold "non-dairy creamer" (which is what e.g. CoffeeMate is described as), and "creamer" the word for the liquid leaches into a shorthand for describing the whole little package, which can then contain actual cream, or other substances. –  quixoto Oct 4 '12 at 6:01
    
@quixoto The wikipedia link I posted does call the cream-containing vessel a "creamer". I swear I am not making this up :) –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 4 '12 at 12:48
    
@Mr.ShinyandNew安宇: Oh, no doubt, I know you're not; I call those pitchers creamers myself. However, it's my hypothesis that the the little guys are called "creamers" for a different reason: not because they're small versions of the pitchers, but because of what they contain. Just a theory. –  quixoto Oct 5 '12 at 17:28

At least one maker calls them singles – short for single-serving, I presume.

That said, in that case, I'd say single refers to the name of the product, not the container. However, I might call it a single-sized creamer, or a disposable creamer.

As for a generic name of the container itself, I'm not sure if there's a formal name for a cup that small. In the case where they are filled with cream, flavored cream, or half-and-half, creamer cup could work. Typing that term into Google images returns several variants:

enter image description here

However, if a company were to put, say, soy sauce in the same container, I don't think creamer cup would be apt for that.

share|improve this answer
    
Insert Fight Club reference here. –  kenny Oct 5 '12 at 20:26

Seems it seems as if you are looking for a word that would have people understand what you mean, regardless of whether there is actually a technical word for it, I will say that I have heard them called mini-tubs or just miniature tubs. Since cup seems to me generally to imply a handle, tub is better in my mind.

miniature tubs of [creamer]

would therefore be my vote.

Like you, I think of the contents and not the container when I heard creamer.

share|improve this answer
2  
One brand calls theirs "mini-moos". (For non-natives, "moo" is imitative of a cow's voice.) I think any of "mini", "mini tub" or "mini - INSERT PRODUCT NAME" is probably a good choice. –  TecBrat Oct 3 '12 at 19:31

Great question.

In most fast food places, such as McDonald’s, Subway, and Burger King, they are called creams in casual talk:

  • How many creams do you want?
  • Can I have three creams, please?

In a coffee shop or café you would ask for cream to go. Most coffee and donut places will have both the cream to go and a large quart of half-and-half. If they run out, just ask for half-and-half or cream to go.

The small container is mainly a cup of cream for travelers.

share|improve this answer
    
"I'd like four creams" falls under metonymy/synecdoche: you're naming the thing for what it contains — if the thing contains something else, the name doesn't transfer. They make ketchup containers these days that greatly resemble a half-and-half container, but you wouldn't say "I'd like 4 ketchup creams"; you'd just stick to "I'd like 4 ketchups". Which is all well and good in everyday usage, but if you're trying to refer to the containers, not the contents thereof, you're stuck with circumlocutions like "those thingies that contain half-and-half". –  Marthaª yesterday

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.