Is this a tub, a box, a bottle? Or is there a better word for it?

cylindrical container with screw lid containing 90 chewable Vitamin C tablets
(source: tesco.com)

Unfortunately, the product page at tesco.com doesn't say what the tablets come in - only that frying information isn't applicable... ;-)

  • Chewable pills or powder I guess, you can't chew liquid. Nov 24, 2016 at 10:45
  • Perhaps prescription bottle Nov 24, 2016 at 13:36
  • 2
    In the US pills generally come in "bottles". "boxes" are usually made of some kind of paper product (usually cardboard). "tubs" are bathtub shaped containers with a flat top.
    – user3169
    Nov 25, 2016 at 6:13

5 Answers 5


Seeing as it's medicinal in nature, I'd say it was a bottle, or more specifically, a pill bottle.

If it were a liquid medicine on the other hand, I'd refer to it as a vial.

If I were to be more generic, I'd simply refer to it as a container.

Edit: This is a container for another, similar Tesco supplement (in this case it's a multivitamin container)

enter image description here

The manufacturer refers to the container as a bottle.

  • 1
    It doesn't look like a vial ))) A vial is typically made of glass and contains liquid. Nov 24, 2016 at 10:41
  • I agree. That's why I added the qualifier "if it were a liquid medicine..."
    – mike
    Nov 24, 2016 at 10:42
  • 1
    In Canadian English I would call this a plastic bottle, no matter what was in it.
    – CCTO
    Dec 30, 2020 at 21:13
  • It's not a ubiquitous practice to name the container based on its contents. Without a physical referent there may be habitual use, eg calling every medicine container with a lid a "bottle". Recommended action is eliminate this contextual noise about medicine. Jan 7, 2023 at 23:39

I would use the rather generic word "container".

This doesn't have the characteristic form of a "bottle" (it has no neck). "Jar" is associated with an airtight sealed container. "Pot" suggest ceramics. "Vial" holds liquid. Can or canister suggests an airtight metal container.

So one is forced back a generic term like "container". I've found Pharmaceutical Containers sold wholesale.

In conversation I'd avoid referring directly to the container:

Can you get some vitamin pills from the supermarket?

(rather than "a container of vitamin pills)

I'd only use "container" when referring specifically to the packaging.

The pills come in a plastic container, which is less fragile than glass.


To me (Russian) it's definitely a 'can', not a 'bottle' or a 'tub'.

Here's how a can of medicine or pills looks like

But if we speak about medicine it could really be a pill bottle, pharmacy bottle, or a pill container.

That's what a Pill Bottle, Pharmacy Bottle or a Pill Container looks like

It could also be a jar, maybe. Plastic jar. I don't agree with vial, even a plastic one, since I haven't found any images of a vial looking something similar to the given image.

  • 4
    As it comes from a UK shop, we definitely wouldn't call it a can, bottle sounds most correct to me. But of course it will differ in other English speaking countries.
    – user42526
    Nov 24, 2016 at 11:41
  • @JamesP I think Russian-English. I've seen many images of cans and canned products to say that this looks exactly like a can. But it's also definitely a pill bottle or a pharmacy bottle or a pill container. Nov 24, 2016 at 11:47
  • 1
    Maybe a can of Pringles But a can of potato chips (UK crisps) is usually lined with that metal looking stuff. Canned sardines, meat, soups etc are metal containers. Plastic is not the same.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 24, 2016 at 13:14
  • 1
    Yes, "can" would be wrong. Mar 19, 2017 at 0:37
  • 1
    I have never encountered a plastic can. Cans are always metal. Even if the can is bottle-shaped, it's called a bottle shaped can. Search it. Bottles are plastic or glass, never metal (that I can recall).
    – EllieK
    Jan 3, 2023 at 18:35

A technical term for this shape of container is "canister". A Google image search for "canister" produces many images of containers that are approximately the same shape.

TC Max 500 gram Canister

Identified by vendor as: TC Max 500 gram Canister


In a pharmacy this bottle holds medication such as tablets and capsules and they are called amber bottles.

  • Amber refers to the colour, a dark browny red shade. And this type of bottle is nearly always made of glass, the picture in the question is clearly a different colour bottle made of plastic.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 1, 2020 at 0:09

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