Ask Difference

Cap vs. Cup — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 3, 2023
A cap is a type of headwear, while a cup is a small vessel designed to hold liquids for drinking.
Cap vs. Cup — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cap and Cup

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Key Differences

A cap is commonly recognized as a form of headgear that often comes with a visor or brim and is designed to fit snugly on one's head. A cup, conversely, is a container, usually small and open-topped, intended to hold drinkable liquids and often equipped with a handle.
Caps can be functional or symbolic, used for protection against weather elements or as a part of a uniform, showing affiliation with a sports team or organization. Cups hold a functional place at meal times, rituals, or ceremonies, and are central in both casual and formal settings for the consumption of beverages.
Materials for caps can vary widely from cloth, leather, to synthetic materials, suited to the environment they're designed for, such as warmth, breathability, or for athletic purposes. Cups are crafted from a variety of materials including glass, ceramic, plastic, or metal, chosen for their durability, aesthetics, or suitability for different types of drinks.
The design of a cap can reflect current fashions or serve specific practical purposes, like baseball caps for shading the eyes, or knit caps for warmth. The design of a cup, including its size, shape, and handle, is often dictated by the type of beverage it is intended for, such as a teacup versus a coffee cup.
While caps can denote style or status, such as a graduation cap symbolizing academic achievement, cups can symbolize hospitality and community, such as sharing a cup of tea with a guest or raising a cup in a toast.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Headwear with a visor or brim.
A small vessel for holding liquids.

Purpose

Worn on the head for protection or fashion.
Used to drink liquids from.

Materials

Cloth, leather, synthetic materials.
Glass, ceramic, plastic, metal.

Symbolism

Can indicate team affiliation or achievement.
Symbolizes hospitality, community.

Varieties

Baseball, knit, trucker, beanie.
Teacup, coffee cup, measuring cup, trophy cup.

Compare with Definitions

Cap

Something that covers the top
The bottle needs a cap to prevent spills.

Cup

Unit of measurement
The recipe called for one cup of sugar.

Cap

A cap is a kind of soft and flat headgear, usually with a visor. Caps have crowns that fit very close to the head.

Cup

Containing shape or part
He cradled the injured bird in the cup of his hands.

Cap

A kind of soft, flat hat without a brim and typically with a peak
A man wearing a raincoat and a flat cap
Her cap of dark hair

Cup

Concave protective device
The athlete wore a protective cup during the game.

Cap

A protective lid or cover for an object such as a bottle, the point of a pen, or a camera lens
A glass bottle with a screw cap
A lens cap from a camera

Cup

A cup is an open-top container used to hold liquids for pouring or drinking; while mainly used for drinking, it also can be used to store solids for pouring (e.g., sugar, flour, grains). Cups may be made of glass, metal, china, clay, wood, stone, polystyrene, plastic, aluminium or other materials, and are usually fixed with a stem, handles, or other adornments.

Cap

An upper limit imposed on spending or borrowing
He raised the cap on local authority spending

Cup

A small bowl-shaped container for drinking from, typically having a handle.

Cap

A contraceptive diaphragm.

Cup

An 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.

Cap

The broad upper part of the fruiting body of most mushrooms and toadstools, at the top of a stem and bearing gills or pores.

Cup

A cup-shaped thing.

Cap

Short for percussion cap

Cup

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

Cap

Short for capitalization
Small-cap stocks
Mid-cap companies

Cup

Form (one's hand or hands) into the curved shape of a cup
‘Hey!’ Dad shouted, with his hands cupped around his mouth

Cap

Put a lid or cover on
He capped his pen

Cup

Bleed (someone) by using a glass in which a partial vacuum is formed by heating
Dr Ross ordered me to be cupped

Cap

Provide a fitting climax or conclusion to
He capped a memorable season by becoming champion of champions

Cup

A small open container, usually with a flat bottom and a handle, used for drinking.

Cap

Place a limit or restriction on (prices, expenditure, or borrowing)
Council budgets will be capped

Cup

Such a container and its contents.

Cap

Be chosen as a member of a particular sports team, especially a national one
He was capped ten times by England

Cup

Abbr. c. A unit of capacity or volume equal to 16 tablespoons or 8 fluid ounces (237 milliliters). See Table at measurement.

Cap

Confer a university degree on.

Cup

The bowl of a drinking vessel.

Cap

A usually soft and close-fitting head covering, either having no brim or with a visor.

Cup

The chalice or the wine used in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Cap

A special head covering worn to indicate rank, occupation, or membership in a particular group
A cardinal's cap.
A sailor's cap.

Cup

A decorative cup-shaped vessel awarded as a prize or trophy.

Cap

An academic mortarboard. Used especially in the phrase cap and gown.

Cup

(Sports) A golf hole or the metal container inside a hole.

Cap

A protective cover or seal, especially one that closes off an end or a tip
A bottle cap.
A 35-millimeter lens cap.

Cup

Either of the two parts of a brassiere that fit over the breasts.

Cap

A crown for covering or sealing a tooth.

Cup

An athletic supporter having a protective reinforcement of rigid plastic or metal.

Cap

A truck cap.

Cup

A sweetened, flavored, usually chilled beverage, especially one made with wine
Claret cup.

Cap

A tread for a worn pneumatic tire.

Cup

A dish served in a cup-shaped vessel
Fruit cup.

Cap

A fitted covering used to seal a well or large pipe.

Cup

A cuplike object.

Cap

Chiefly Southern US See eye.

Cup

(Biology) A cuplike structure or organ.

Cap

A summit or top, as of a mountain.

Cup

A lot or portion to be suffered or enjoyed.

Cap

An upper limit; a ceiling
Placed a cap on mortgage rates.

Cup

To shape like a cup
Cup one's hands.

Cap

(Architecture) The capital of a column.

Cup

To place one's curved hand or hands over or around
Cupped his chin in his hands.

Cap

The top part, or pileus, of a mushroom.

Cup

To subject to the therapeutic procedure of cupping.

Cap

A calyptra.

Cup

A concave vessel for drinking from, usually made of opaque material (as opposed to a glass) and with a handle.
Pour the tea into the cup.

Cap

A percussion cap.

Cup

The contents of said vessel.
I drank two cups of water but still felt thirsty.

Cap

A small explosive charge enclosed in paper for use in a toy gun.

Cup

A customary unit of measure

Cap

Any of several sizes of writing paper, such as foolscap.

Cup

(US) A US unit of liquid measure equal to 8 fluid ounces (16 of a US gallon; 236.5882365 mL) or 240 mL.

Cap

(Sports) An appearance by a player in an international soccer game, traditionally rewarded with a hat.

Cup

(Canada) A Canadian unit of measure equal to 8 imperial ounces (20 imperial gallon; 227.3 mL) or 250 mL.

Cap

A capital letter.

Cup

A British unit of measure equal to 2 imperial pint (10 imperial ounces; 284 mL) or 300 mL.

Cap

Capital
Venture cap.

Cup

A trophy in the shape of an oversized cup.
The World Cup is awarded to the winner of a quadrennial football tournament.

Cap

Capitalization
Market cap.

Cup

A contest for which a cup is awarded.
The World Cup is the world's most widely watched sporting event.

Cap

To cover, protect, or seal with a cap.

Cup

(association football) The main knockout tournament in a country, organised alongside the league.

Cap

To award a special cap to as a sign of rank or achievement
Capped the new women nurses at graduation.

Cup

(golf) A cup-shaped object placed in the target hole.
The ball just misses the cup.

Cap

To lie over or on top of; cover
Hills capped with snow.

Cup

(in combination) Any of various sweetened alcoholic drinks.
Cider cup
Gin cup
Claret cup

Cap

To apply the finishing touch to; complete
Cap a meal with dessert.

Cup

A rigid concave protective covering for the male genitalia.
Players of contact sports are advised to wear a cup.

Cap

To follow with something better; surpass or outdo
Capped his last trick with a disappearing act that brought the audience to its feet.

Cup

One of the two parts of a brassiere which each cover a breast.
The cups are made of a particularly uncomfortable material.

Cap

To set an upper limit on
Decided to cap cost-of-living increases.

Cup

Prefixed with a letter, used as a measurement of bra or breast size.

Cap

To capitalize.

Cup

(mathematics) The symbol \cup denoting union and similar operations.

Cap

A close-fitting hat, either brimless or peaked.
The children were all wearing caps to protect them from the sun.

Cup

(tarot) A suit of the minor arcana in tarot, or one of the cards from the suit.

Cap

A special hat to indicate rank, occupation, etc.

Cup

(ultimate frisbee) A defensive style characterized by a three player near defense cupping the thrower; or those three players.

Cap

An academic mortarboard.

Cup

A flexible concave membrane used to temporarily attach a handle or hook to a flat surface by means of suction.

Cap

A protective cover or seal.
He took the cap off the bottle and splashed himself with some cologne.

Cup

Anything shaped like a cup.
The cup of an acorn

Cap

A crown for covering a tooth.
He had golden caps on his teeth.

Cup

A cupping glass or other vessel or instrument used to produce the vacuum in cupping.

Cap

The summit of a mountain, etc.
There was snow on the cap of the mountain.

Cup

(figurative) That which is to be received or indured; that which is allotted to one; a portion of blessings and afflictions.

Cap

An artificial upper limit or ceiling.
We should put a cap on the salaries, to keep them under control.

Cup

(transitive) To form into the shape of a cup, particularly of the hands.
Cup your hands and I'll pour some rice into them.

Cap

The top part of a mushroom.

Cup

(transitive) To hold something in cupped hands.
He cupped the ball carefully in his hands.

Cap

(toy) A small amount of percussive explosive in a paper strip or plastic cup for use in a toy gun.
Billy spent all morning firing caps with his friends, re-enacting storming the beach at Normandy.

Cup

(transitive) To pour (a liquid, drink, etc.) into a cup.
We are cupping some new brands of coffee today.

Cap

A small explosive device used to detonate a larger charge of explosives.
He wired the cap to the bundle of dynamite, then detonated it remotely.

Cup

To supply with cups of wine.

Cap

(slang) A bullet used to shoot someone.

Cup

To apply a cupping apparatus to; to subject to the operation of cupping.

Cap

A lie or exaggeration.
No cap

Cup

To make concave or in the form of a cup.
To cup the end of a screw

Cap

(sport) A place on a national team; an international appearance.

Cup

A small vessel, used commonly to drink from; as, a tin cup, a silver cup, a wine cup; especially, in modern times, the pottery or porcelain vessel, commonly with a handle, used with a saucer in drinking tea, coffee, and the like.

Cap

(obsolete) The top, or uppermost part; the chief.

Cup

The contents of such a vessel; a cupful.
Give me a cup of sack, boy.

Cap

(obsolete) A respectful uncovering of the head.

Cup

Repeated potations; social or excessive indulgence in intoxicating drinks; revelry.
Thence from cups to civil broils.

Cap

(zoology) The whole top of the head of a bird from the base of the bill to the nape of the neck.

Cup

That which is to be received or indured; that which is allotted to one; a portion.
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.

Cap

(architecture) The uppermost of any assemblage of parts.
The cap of column, door, etc.; a capital, coping, cornice, lintel, or plate

Cup

Anything shaped like a cup; as, the cup of an acorn, or of a flower.
The cowslip's golden cup no more I see.

Cap

Something covering the top or end of a thing for protection or ornament.

Cup

A cupping glass or other vessel or instrument used to produce the vacuum in cupping.

Cap

(nautical) A collar of iron or wood used in joining spars, as the mast and the topmast, the bowsprit and the jib boom; also, a covering of tarred canvas at the end of a rope.

Cup

To supply with cups of wine.
Cup us, till the world go round.

Cap

(geometry) A portion of a spherical or other convex surface.

Cup

To apply a cupping apparatus to; to subject to the operation of cupping. See Cupping.

Cap

A large size of writing paper.
Flat cap; foolscap; legal cap

Cup

To make concave or in the form of a cup; as, to cup the end of a screw.

Cap

(finance) Capitalization.

Cup

A United States liquid unit equal to 8 fluid ounces

Cap

(informal) An uppercase or capital letter.

Cup

The quantity a cup will hold;
He drank a cup of coffee
He borrowed a cup of sugar

Cap

(electronics) A capacitor.
Parasitic caps.
I had to replace the caps in that thing to get it to work again.

Cup

A small open container usually used for drinking; usually has a handle;
He put the cup back in the saucer
The handle of the cup was missing

Cap

(colloquial) A recording or screenshot.
Anyone have a cap of the games last night?

Cup

A large metal vessel with two handles that is awarded as a trophy to the winner of a competition;
The school kept the cups is a special glass case

Cap

(slang) A capsule of a drug.

Cup

Any cup-shaped concavity;
Bees filled the waxen cups with honey
He wore a jock strap with a metal cup
The cup of her bra

Cap

(colloquial) A capitalist.

Cup

The hole (or metal container in the hole) on a golf green;
He swore as the ball rimmed the cup and rolled away
Put the flag back in the cup

Cap

Capillary

Cup

A punch served in a pitcher instead of a punch bowl

Cap

(obsolete) A wooden drinking-bowl with two handles.

Cup

Cup-shaped plant organ

Cap

(transitive) To cover or seal with a cap.

Cup

Form into the shape of a cup;
She cupped her hands

Cap

(transitive) To award a cap as a mark of distinction.

Cup

Put into a cup;
Cup the milk

Cap

(transitive) To lie over or on top of something.

Cup

Treat by applying evacuated cups to the patient's skin

Cap

(transitive) To surpass or outdo.

Cup

Drinking vessel with a handle
She sipped tea from her favorite cup.

Cap

(transitive) To set an upper limit on something.
Cap wages.

Cup

Trophy in the shape of an oversized cup
The team proudly lifted the championship cup.

Cap

(transitive) To make something even more wonderful at the end.
That really capped my day.

Cap

To select a player to play for a specified side.

Cap

To shoot (someone) with a firearm.
If he don't get outta my hood, I'm gonna cap his ass.
In a school shooting, where some kid caps a bunch of other kids, where did he get the weapon? From a family member, probably their gun cabinet.

Cap

To lie; to tell a lie.

Cap

To select to play for the national team.
Peter Shilton is the most capped English footballer.

Cap

To salute by uncovering the head respectfully.

Cap

To deprive of a cap.

Cap

To convert text to uppercase.

Cap

(transitive) To take a screenshot or to record a copy of a video.

Cap

A covering for the head

Cap

The top, or uppermost part; the chief.
Thou art the cap of all the fools alive.

Cap

A respectful uncovering of the head.
He that will give a cap and make a leg in thanks.

Cap

The whole top of the head of a bird from the base of the bill to the nape of the neck.

Cap

Anything resembling a cap in form, position, or use

Cap

A large size of writing paper; as, flat cap; foolscap; legal cap.

Cap

To cover with a cap, or as with a cap; to provide with a cap or cover; to cover the top or end of; to place a cap upon the proper part of; as, to cap a post; to cap a gun.
The bones next the joint are capped with a smooth cartilaginous substance.

Cap

To deprive of cap.

Cap

To complete; to crown; to bring to the highest point or consummation; as, to cap the climax of absurdity.

Cap

To salute by removing the cap.
Tom . . . capped the proctor with the profoundest of bows.

Cap

To match; to mate in contest; to furnish a complement to; as, to cap text; to cap proverbs.
Now I have him under girdle I'll cap verses with him to the end of the chapter.

Cap

To uncover the head respectfully.

Cap

A tight-fitting headdress

Cap

A top (as for a bottle)

Cap

A mechanical or electrical explosive device or a small amount of explosive; can be used to initiate the reaction of a disrupting explosive

Cap

Something serving as a cover or protection

Cap

A fruiting structure resembling an umbrella that forms the top of a stalked fleshy fungus such as a mushroom

Cap

An upper limit on what is allowed;
They established a cap for prices

Cap

Dental appliance consisting of an artificial crown for a tooth

Cap

The upper part of a column that supports the entablature

Cap

Lie at the top of;
Snow capped the mountains

Cap

Restrict the number or amount of;
We had to cap the number of people we can accept into our club

Cap

Head covering with a brim
He tipped his cap as a sign of respect.

Cap

Protective headgear
The construction worker put on his safety cap before entering the site.

Cap

Symbol of achievement
Graduates threw their caps into the air in celebration.

Cap

Upper limit or maximum
The salary cap was introduced to control spending.

Common Curiosities

Can cups be used for hot and cold beverages?

Yes, cups are designed to hold both hot and cold liquids.

Are all caps brimmed?

Most caps have brims, but some styles like beanies do not.

What is a salary cap?

A salary cap is a limit on the amount of money a team can spend on player salaries.

Is a mug considered a cup?

Yes, a mug is a type of cup, generally larger and without a saucer.

What is a measuring cup?

A measuring cup is a kitchen utensil used to measure liquid or bulk dry ingredients.

How many ounces are in a standard cup?

A standard US cup measures 8 fluid ounces.

Do caps come in different sizes?

Yes, caps come in various sizes, and some are adjustable.

What is the origin of the baseball cap?

The baseball cap originated as part of the baseball uniform in the mid-1800s.

What is a cap typically made of?

Caps are typically made of materials like cotton, wool, or polyester.

Are teacups only used for tea?

Primarily for tea, teacups can be used for any beverage, although they are often smaller.

Can cups be decorative?

Yes, cups can be decorative and are often collectible items.

What's the difference between a cup and a glass?

A cup often has a handle and sometimes a saucer, while a glass typically does not.

Are caps washable?

Many caps are washable, but it's best to check the manufacturer's instructions.

What does "cap rate" mean?

Cap rate, or capitalization rate, is a real estate measure for return on investment.

What's the difference between a cap and a hat?

A cap typically has a brim at the front, while a hat can have a brim all around.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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