What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a container for holding liquids. Bottles can be made from glass, plastic or other materials and are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Bottles are usually used to contain liquids such as beverages, perfumes and household cleaners. Bottles can also be used to store chemicals or medical solutions.

A common bottle shape is a cylindrical, tapered, narrow neck with a broad mouth opening. The neck may have a raised lip or rim around its perimeter. The opening can range in size from narrow to wide depending on the intended use of the bottle. Bottles can be sealed by a cork, screw-top or snap closure. The cap must be the correct size to prevent leakage and evaporation.

The shoulder is the portion of a bottle that joins the wide main body and the narrower neck. The slope of the shoulder can affect how quickly a liquid is dispensed when the bottle is inverted. The base of the bottle is often recessed to allow a stable bearing surface and reduce rocking.

Mold seam(s) – Raised lines on the neck, shoulders, finish and/or base of a bottle that mark where the edges of different mold sections came together during the molding process. Sometimes called parting lines, joint marks or striations (White 1978). See the Bottle Body & Mold Seams page for more information on these features.

Heel – The lowest point of the body, where it begins to curve into the base. The heel may be a curved insweep or flattened insweep depending on the design of the bottle.

Finish – The top of a bottle that is often rounded to accommodate a specific closure size. The finish may have a ribbed, spiral-shaped ridge that meshes with a screw-type closure to seal the bottle. The finish of a plastic bottle is also sometimes referred to as a thread or ring.

Some plastic bottles can have a flat area on the body that is intended for the application of a label. This area is sometimes recessed to prevent labels from rubbing together during shipping and from fraying edges.

Bottle morphology is complex and can be confusing. It is important to understand the terminology used when discussing a bottle’s features to avoid miscommunication and confusion. This is especially true when referring to specific parts of a bottle such as the finish, collar or lip. The glossary page has definitions and descriptions for many of the most commonly used terms when discussing bottle morphology. It is recommended that this page be referenced when using these terms in discussions to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. A number of these terms are also defined on the Bottle Finishes page and on this page for convenience.