What Is a Bottle?


A bottle is a narrow-necked container made of an impermeable material in various shapes and sizes that stores and transports liquids. It can be sealed with an internal stopper, a closure, or induction sealing. There are many different kinds of bottles, and they can be made of glass, plastic, or metal. Some are resealable and some are disposable, while others are intended to be used multiple times. A bottle may be shaped to suit its contents, or it might have a fancy decoration or label.

Bottle was 19th Century slang for courage or nerve, and it still figures in some idioms today: “no bottle” means no good or useless; a naval reprimand is a “bottle up”; to lose your bottle means you’re scared shitless (from the original meaning of the phrase, where someone would be so afraid they’d drop their trousers and “lose their bottle”). The word is also used figuratively to mean something that’s not working, such as an idea or plan: “that’s a real bottleneck,” etc.

In bottlemaking, the term applied finish refers to a decoration on the neck of a glass bottle that was not formed as part of the blow-molding process. Applied finishes include string, lip, and sheared finishes. The difference between this and a tooled finish is that the applied finish was applied in a separate process after the parison was severed from the blow pipe. The application of the finishing glass often requires re-firing to keep the glass soft and workable, after which it is “tooled” to form the desired shape and dimensions of the finish.

The plastic bottles most commonly used to hold beverages are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This is a high-density plastic that is inexpensive and has an excellent moisture barrier, and it is available in a variety of colors. Other types of plastic used in the manufacture of bottles include low-density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

Plastic bottles discarded after single use eventually find their way into sewers, rivers, lakes, and oceans where they can cause pollution that is harmful to land and sea creatures. In addition, plastics can take hundreds of years to break down into microplastics.

After a bottle becomes litter, it is carried by wind and ocean currents to coastal areas where it can become lodged in a large system of rotating currents known as an oceanic gyre. The gyres are located around the world and carry marine debris from the continents to the ocean, where it can be washed ashore or deposited in shallow waterways. Some of these waters eventually flow into the Pacific garbage patch, which contains many single-use plastic bottles that have not yet broken down. Other plastics, such as those from recycled bottles, are carried by the same pathways to the ocean and have a significant impact on sea life. Plastic pollution is a global issue that needs to be addressed by recycling and other solutions.