Glass, Cup, Mug, & Other Glassware in Sinhala (And Why The Jayasinhas Named Their Scotch Glasses)


You know you’ve got a drinking problem…

… when you’ve actually named the Scotch glasses in your house!

Yes, ladies & gentlemen. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s true that the Scotch glasses in the Jayasinha family household have been given a ‘special’ name.

So before you learn the Sinhala words for “glass”, “cup”, “mug” & other glassware (and before you judge my strange family) thought I’d tell you the story of how & why we named something as inanimate as drinking glasses >>>


(To go straight to to the Sinhala learning part, click here. If not, continue reading to know how a comedy show and the upper chamber of US congress influenced the naming of Scotch glasses):



It happened during the Christmas holidays of 2011…

As with every Christmas, I would fly in from Monaco and my brother would fly in from Melbourne to visit our parents in Sri Lanka. It was the annual Jayasinha family reunion.

Our reunion trips usually spanned around 2 weeks and would probably be considered boring and uneventful by most people.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

You see, all we’d do is stay home eating mom’s cooking, exchanging stories from our lives, binge-watching standup comedy, and of course, drinking a lot of good Scotch.

A cheap Sri Lankan’s make-do Scotch glass

Prior to this trip, the glasses we used for our drinking sessions were – and don’t you dare laugh – my previously used Dijon mustard jars that I had brought back from Monaco (“You can take the kid out of Sri Lanka…”).

But hey, in defence of my cheap-ass, if you cleaned it up and got rid of the black rubber lid, then you’ve got a decent-looking Scotch glass that could fool most people.

During this trip, however, my brother said “enough is enough” and decided to gift my parents a set of fancy Scotch glasses.

The bottle, the packaging, the taste of the drink, everything reminds me of our Jayasinha family reunions.

Our favorite single malt Scotch is undoubtedly Glenmorangie and my brother’s argument was that the hardworking folks from its distillery in Tain, Scotland did not produce this gem for it to be drunk from mustard jars.

I had to agree.

Also around this time, one of our favorite American comics, Louis CK, released his 4th comedy special and my brother and I bought it, watched it, and absolutely loved it.

He and I have always had this annoying habit of quoting lines from the hundreds of comedy specials we’ve watched, typically at inappropriate moments.

Similarly, in this comedy special, Louis CK says the line “Well Senator, I hope you’ll play ball with us…”.

(Side note: In case you haven’t heard the expression “play ball” before, it simply means “to cooperate and work willingly with someone”)

This line, for some idiotic reason, became our alternative to saying “cheers” before we had our first drink. So we, like complete morons, would say “Well Senator, I hope you’ll play ball with us”, clink our glasses, and giggle ourselves silly.

A few nights later we were having another drink and my father, who had already heard the line from us but who obviously didn’t correctly remember it said:

“Well Senator, I hope you’ll play with our balls”…


I remember how hard we laughed! And mind you, the drinking had not even begun yet.

I believe that it was then that we baptized the glasses in our hands with the following name that we use even till today:



Since that fateful day, the Senators have lived happily ever after in the liquor cabinet and would come out to party whenever the Jayasinha boys visited home.

The End.

Sinhala Words For “Glass”, “Cup”, “Mug”, & Other Glassware


Glass in Sinhala

– a glass– vee∙dhu∙ru∙wak      
– glasses– vee∙dhu∙ru      

My Random Notes:

3 “wine glass”  =  ‘wine   vee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ’;   “beer glass”  =  ‘beer   vee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ’;   “Champagne flute”  =  ‘champagne   vee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ’;   “whiskey/Scotch glass”  =  ‘whiskey   vee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ’


Sample Phrases:

The glass is fullvee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ   pi∙ri∙la
The glass is emptyvee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ   his
The glass is half fullvee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ   baa∙gȧ∙yak   pi∙ri∙la
The glass is half emptyvee∙dhu∙ru∙wȧ   baa∙gȧ∙yak   his
Would you give me a glass of water?ma∙tȧ   va∙thu∙rȧ   vee∙dhu∙ru∙wak   dhé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?



Cup, Mug, & Saucer in Sinhala

– a cup– kōp∙pȧ∙yak      
– cups– kōp∙pȧ      

My Random Notes:

4 “tea cup”  =  thḗ   kōp∙pȧ∙yȧ


mug“mug”   é∙kȧ      
– a mug– “mug”   é∙kak      
– mugs– “mug”      
– a saucer– pee∙ri∙si∙yak      
– saucers– pee∙ri∙si      

My Random Notes:

5 I remember from an old Sinhala song from my childhood where a “flying saucer” is referred to as ‘paa∙vé∙nȧ pee∙ri∙si∙yȧ’ which literally means “a floating saucer”. Don’t know what I mentioned that but like I warned you already, these are “My RANDOM notes”…


Sample Phrases:

  • You can substitute the above words with any of the appropriate sample phrases you saw before



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Bottle & Jug in Sinhala

– a bottle– bō∙thȧ∙lȧ∙yak      
– bottles– bō∙thal      
– a jug– jog∙gu∙wak      
– jugs– jog∙gu      

Sample Phrases:

  • You can substitute the above words with any of the appropriate sample phrases you saw before



Other stuff which didn’t belong in neither crockery, cutlery, nor glassware (so I’m dumping it here…)

teapotthḗ   pōch∙chi∙yȧ6      
coaster“coaster”   é∙kȧ      
napkin“serviette”   é∙kȧ8      
table clothmḗ∙sȧ   rédh∙dhȧ9      

My Random Notes:

6 ‘thḗ’  =  “tea”;   ‘pōch∙chi∙yȧ’  =  “pot”;   Also, just FYI “flower pot” is   ‘mal   pōch∙chi∙yȧ’

7 ‘moo∙di∙yȧ’ can also refer to a bottle cap

8 You could also perhaps say  ‘napkin  é∙ka’   but   ‘serviette  é∙kȧ’   is more often used, me thinks…

9 ‘mḗ∙sȧ∙yȧ’  =  “table”;   ‘mḗ∙sȧ’  =  “of the table (as an adjective);   ‘rédh∙dhȧ’  =  “cloth”


Sample Phrases:

  • You can substitute the above words with any of the appropriate sample phrases you saw before



Other Sinhala Words That You “Accidentally” Just Learned

pi∙ri∙la“is full”
his“is empty”
baa∙gȧ∙yak“(a) half”
dhé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?“would (you) give?”
paa∙vé∙nȧ“floating” (adjective)
mal   pōch∙chi∙yȧ“flower pot”


Now, my friend, it’s your turn!

  1. Post related: In the comments below, go ahead and suggest any other related phrases that I’ve left out and I’ll translate it.
  2. Fun-related: Have you also given a name to some object you own (like a car, a computer, a toy)? For example, my wife who just read through this post, casually told me that she had named her blanket “Mimi” when she was a kid… (her blanket? really?). What’s your story? I’m all ears…


That’s all for now, folks!

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21 Responses to Glass, Cup, Mug, & Other Glassware in Sinhala (And Why The Jayasinhas Named Their Scotch Glasses)

  1. Clarissa Fraser January 22, 2017 at 16:40 #

    You got the post done by Sunday! Congratulations! And thank you! Very well done, and I especially like the part at the end with other words you have unintentionally learned. Helpful to have it all listed together!
    Question… in the US a mug and cup and tea cup are all very different objects, I see you have just mug and cup above, which of those would you use to refer to a tea cup or would it just be adding tea to the word cup?
    I named my pillow as a child. It was a red satin heart shaped pillow named Lolo. Went with me everywhere! Probably named Lolo from my preschool pronunciation of pillow but nonetheless that inanimate object was very dear to me. And I lost it of all places in a pillow store (or the pillow section of a large department store actually). One of the few very detailed memories of my early childhood I have (very traumatic losing Lolo!)
    Your story of The Senators is great, thanks for sharing. Moments like those are ones we never forget in our families and what make the time together even sweeter.
    Thank you for the great post again! And if I think of another question as I mull this one over I will be sure to post!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 23, 2017 at 09:22 #

      Hi Clarissa, yes, I made it on time for Sunday!

      To answer your question, “tea cup” would be ‘thḗ kōp∙pȧ∙yȧ’.

      Aw.. that’s heartbreaking how you lost lolo… can imagine how sad it made you. But the irony of losing it in a pillow store though!

      Yes, please let me know any other questions once you’ve read through it again. Thanks to this comment, I’ve now included “tea cup” this in the post above as a random note. See? It doesn’t go unused :)

  2. Hugh January 22, 2017 at 22:58 #

    So Dilshan your way of saying cheers is “Well Senator, I hope you’ll play ball with us…” but how can I say cheers at a Sri Lankan dinner party?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 23, 2017 at 09:25 #

      Hi Hugh, you’d typically say “cheers”.

      If you’re with a bunch of close friends (male), then you could alternatively say “cheers machang”. (‘machang’ = “buddy/dude”, usually said amongst guys).

      Finally, this is only my observation but I’ve noticed that my father’s generation and upwards say “cheers, good luck” or “cheers, all the best”. Almost like they already know how bad the hangover is going to be…

      Does that answer your question?

      • Hugh January 23, 2017 at 17:35 #

        Thanks Dilshan, now I feel ready to go to my friends place for Sinhala New Year. මචන් ස්තුතියි

        • Dilshan Jayasinha January 23, 2017 at 17:56 #

          Haha, you’re welcome. Dilshan Jayasinha, facilitating social drinking in Sinhala since 2013.

  3. Mark January 22, 2017 at 23:22 #

    Thanks for that Dilshan, most educational as usual. On a side note, my father was a whisky distillery manager for most of my childhood in the North of Scotland. I do agree that Glenmorangie is a fine whisky, as are many others, but next time you’re passing through a duty-free please treat yourself to a bottle of 12-year old Cardhu. It’s a Speyside single malt that I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy! Have fun.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 23, 2017 at 09:37 #

      Done, good sir! I’m always looking out for single malt recommendations. Especially from people who know their single malts. I think your lineage certainly makes you one.

      I just googled it and will definitely look out for it. It’s also manageable in terms of my budget. Since you come across as a connoisseur and might appreciate it, let me tell you that I was gifted a John Walker & Sons Odyssey for my wedding! Talk about a bottle that is NOT manageable in terms of my budget. At least for now :) Yet to even take a sip from it. Waiting for the right moment.

      By the way, have you tried the Indian single malt, Amrut?

  4. Elisabeth January 23, 2017 at 01:41 #

    Loved your story Dilshan, good laugh on an early morning. Nice lesson on glasses and ancillary items, very useful.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 23, 2017 at 09:53 #

      That’s great to hear, Elisabeth. Always trying my best to “E & E” (Entertain & Educate) so your comment is very assuring and appreciated.

  5. Shabilah January 24, 2017 at 11:04 #

    No disrespect but all along I thought you were a computer. My bad!! Anyway, you are doing a wonderful job. I married a Sri Lankan and each time I visit Lanka, I feel totally lost whenever they converse in Sinhalese. It is a beautiful language and I love listening to them speak and boy, arent they fast? I managed to learn a few words from my wonderful mother in law. My husband only teaches me the bad words. Hahaha!!


    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 24, 2017 at 15:37 #

      Thanks for the feeback, Shabilah. Glad my stuff is helping in some way.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 24, 2017 at 15:39 #

      PS. You were right all along. Please just don’t tell anybody my secret:

  6. Shirley January 25, 2017 at 18:56 #

    Fabulous as always, very useful and of course your entertaining style is really great. Super slide in some inadvertent new words. Very useful info.

    Thank you for your wonderful work, you are truly a great person.
    Many blessings to you and your lovely wife.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 27, 2017 at 11:19 #

      Thanks for the very kind words, Shirley. I have a feeling that “You truly are a great person” is going to continuously echo inside my head throughout my day :)

      • Shirley January 28, 2017 at 07:29 #

        Thank you for responding to my email, posting to ‘try out’ will let you know if that error comes up again.

        Change that echo to, throughout your life, there is a good thought there. if you ever feel down or what ever. think of that and smile, all will be well. I think I can speak for ALL your tribesters, we love you, and think of you as a friend. And LOVE the laughs and work you do for us.

        you know some day, we are going have to have a big tribester party, perhaps in Sri Lanka, or US or where ever. We would all love to meet you, wouldn’t that be fun?

        • Dilshan Jayasinha January 30, 2017 at 10:46 #

          Printing this, framing this, and hanging this on the wall :)

          Thanks for thealways encouraging, always kind, and always thoughtful messages from you.

          Yeah, a “Lazy But Smart Tribester” Meetup does sound like fun and someone else suggested it to me too. Something to certainly think about.

          Thanks again for your comment, Shirley. Much appreciated.

  7. Tatiana June 8, 2017 at 15:09 #

    Helpful lesson, thanks.

  8. Cam October 15, 2018 at 02:51 #

    Interesting that Me-sa-ya is table, and that in Spanish “Mesa” is table. Could this be only a co-incidence? So I looked it up, and whaddaya know, Portuguese words snuck into Singhalese. Of course Spanish words snuck into Portuguese somehow, so there you go, a world travelling word!

    This is a great break for a Portuguese speaker. (too bad I am not, but my daughter has learned a lot of Portuguese in Brazil) I found a list on Quora, of a few examples:Commonly used Sinhala words that are of Portuguese origin:
    Baldiya – Bucket
    Bamkuva – Bench
    Bonikka – Doll
    Janelaya – Window
    Mesaya- Table
    Nona – Lady
    Pagava – Bribe
    Rosa Pata – Pink (colour)
    Saban – Soap

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 15, 2018 at 11:17 #

      Cam, that’s fascinating. Thanks for sharing your research. Had no idea about some of those words.

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