The problem is not in the Italian, but in the American use of English. BTW, people do ask for a cup of water. Here's another one for you. A mug of beer would be 'bicchiere' but a mug of coffee would be 'tazza'. Also, what most people would call a plastic cup would actually be 'bicchiere di plastica' as mentioned above. Americans need to think of what they want to drink and use the appropriate word, not the word they think they should use.
The difficulty arises from the fact that 'bicchiere' is given as a synonym for a glass, while tazza denotes a cup. You may drink water out of a bathtub, too, but that hardly qualifies it as a synonym for 'glass.' Now, if Italian usage is such that it is the content not the form of the vessel that determines what it's called, that's useful information. Thank you.
Weeelllll, it does have specific meanings in Italian, but if you are in a restaurant, you would never receive something in an inappropriate vessel, so basically, it's easier to remember if you equate it to what you are drinking not what you think the vessel should be called. Could someone in their home serve you wine in a tazza? Yes, but they would probably be terribly embarrassed about it.
When will DUO learn??? PLEASE, duo: CUP and GLASS are NOT THE SAME in English. "Bicchiere" = glass (generally tall and made of glass), "cup"= tazza (smaller and usually made of some other material, though it could be glass). An English idiom "He sees the GLASS as half full". GRAZIE!
Hi,@kristin Please- you misunderstand me!!! No offense was intended. I am probably DUO's biggest fan (and a huge addict:) It can be easy to misunderstand when we are dealing with people from multiple cultures and languages (especially in a written forum) where we cannot see eachother's smiling faces :)
I am just trying to figure out whether "bicchiere" can mean a short stubby plastic drinking vessel...?
Grazie mille to all of your hard-working staff.
I have always thought of 'bichierre' as something you drink water, wine, or beer out of and 'tazza' as something you drink tea, coffee, or espresso out of. If you use them this way, an Italian will understand exactly what you mean. From your comments, it sounds like you are thinking along the same lines. If you go to Italy, you won't really see plastic cups. People there use glasses and wash them.
Tazza = vessel you would drink coffee or tea out of (cup, the one you would pour your cuppa in :D) Bicchiere = vessel you would drink water or juice out of, not necessarily made of glass (may mean both cup or glass). Glass, as in the the material window panes are made of, is vetro. Bicchiere di plastica = plastic cup So to answer your question yes, and if it's short and stubby I would probably refer to it as a bicchierino (even if it's made of plastic).