15

What do we call glasses with thick lenses that people use when they are very near-sighted? Here is a picture of what I mean:

eyeglasses

  • In German, the equivalent is Glasbaustein (glass block). With a connotation of "ugliness personified". Try an image search for "Glasbaustein" and "hässlich"; the images from the neuperlach.org site are the most archetypical ones I could find. – user82881 Sep 29 '18 at 16:00
  • In French, these are called culs-de-bouteille (bottle bottoms/buttocks) – Pac0 Sep 30 '18 at 10:18
  • In Dutch, jampotglazen (jam jar). – CompuChip Oct 1 '18 at 6:21
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    To extend @CompuChip's answer, as a subset of Dutch, in the Antwerp dialect (and possible other Flemish dialects), they are more commonly referred to as "steriliseerbokaaltjes" (preservation jars). Note the thick glass bottom in the linked image. – Flater Oct 1 '18 at 7:33
37

I would just call them "thick glasses", but I vaguely remember something with the word "bottle". I found "Coke-bottle glasses". Here is a link to an entry from Urban Dictionary, and here's an excerpt from the Coca-Cola Company:

In different regions of the world, eyeglasses with very thick lenses in the frame are called "Coke bottle" glasses -- named after the thick bottoms of Coca-Cola contour bottles.

(Coke bottle eyeglass)

  • 3
    thick glasses is typical. Never heard the Coke thing but it is amusing. – Lambie Sep 27 '18 at 23:21
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    Calling thick lenses Coke bottle glasses, if not wholly deprecatory, is certainly not complimentary. – choster Sep 27 '18 at 23:41
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    @Lambie - "Coke-bottle glasses" is the first thing I thought of when I read the question title, and when I saw the OP's picture. There are scores of hits in books, such as: In 2005, James Turner created Rex Libris, a comic book series featuring the thrilling adventures of a public librarian with Coke-bottle glasses and an arsenal of high-tech weaponry (from "Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries and Archives: Essays on Readers, Research, History and Cataloging", 2010) and In the summer of 1959, Mike was a skinny 8-year-old known in the neighborhood as the kid with Coke-bottle glasses. – J.R. Sep 28 '18 at 0:12
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    I would say "Coke-bottle glasses" is more descriptive than derogatory. As with many expressions, it can be used as an insult, but in and of itself it just means the glasses are very thick. It is slang, though, and not appropriate in every context. – Andrew Sep 28 '18 at 6:26
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    I've heard "Coke-bottle lens" before, and while it isn't exactly derogatory, such lens are usually implied to be unattractive (especially when being described by the person wearing them). Also, their presence implies that the wearer's vision is really bad. – Arcanist Lupus Sep 28 '18 at 14:49
12

Coke-bottle glasses and beer bottle glasses are both American-English expressions. However, if the OP is writing a story set in the British Isles, I would suggest thick glasses, and for a more informal expression, jam-jar glasses.

People with high prescriptions and complicated vision problems – especially those who have worn their glasses for a very long time – may well remember “jam-jar” or “coke-bottle” glasses as an object of embarrassment from their schooldays. Practical, yes – but fashionable?

Check Google Books for more examples of usage.

  • But being short-sighted has its more serious problems. Whoever heard of an airline pilot wearing jam jar glasses?

  • As I jumped out of the car I was met by a man wearing jam jar spectacles, a lab coat and carrying a clipboard. “So, which one is mine?” I asked the egghead. “ (source)

  • She should really be asking forgiveness for those hideous jam jar glasses she wears

@Michael Harvey in the comments, notes that pebble glasses used to be common in British English. Collins Dictionary says

spectacles with round thick lenses with a high degree of magnification

Pebble, also known as Brazilian pebble and rock crystal are transparent colourless quartz crystals and were once used to make lenses for glasses.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Pebble glasses used to be common in British English. Nowadays plastic lenses have swept them away. – Michael Harvey Sep 28 '18 at 6:57
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    @MichaelHarvey oh, yes! I'd forgotten about those. You should post it as an answer. – Mari-Lou A Sep 28 '18 at 7:05
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    "Beer bottle glasses" might cause some confusion with a completely unrelated idiom, "beer goggles." – Cort Ammon Sep 29 '18 at 19:51
  • Milk bottle glasses is another BrEN phrase... – RemarkLima Sep 30 '18 at 21:57
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    @RemarkLima that answer had already been given by Alistair Boynton – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 '18 at 8:19
9

In the UK I have heard the version 'milk-bottle lenses', similar to the previous two answers but referring to the reusable milk bottles that were previously commonly delivered in the morning. Here's a recent headline from the Daily Mail using that version.

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    Not to be confused with "beer goggles". – Michael Harvey Sep 28 '18 at 11:47
8

In Finland, such eye-wear is colloquially known as 'bottle-bottom-glasses'

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    Actually out of all the answers here, this is the most common term I have heard as a native British English speaker living in England for 43 years. +1 – Astralbee Sep 28 '18 at 10:18
  • See also google.com/search?q=coke+bottle+glasses – Davo Sep 28 '18 at 11:34
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    I agree with Astralbee - this is the term I would use as a similarly aged native Brit. – UselessInfoMine Sep 28 '18 at 13:10
5

In South India, they're 'soda bottle' glasses. Soda refers to soda water, not pop

4

There are many great answers here already which are variations on the same theme.

I just feel I should say that as a native British English speaker living in England all my life of 43 years the most common and frequently used term I have heard is bottle-bottom glasses.

I have never heard "Coke bottle glasses", which sounds like an Americanised version of the same expression to me. But obviously the imagery conjured by all of the answers to this question is similar, and in creative writing they would surely all be instantly recognised and understood.

Not to be dogmatic, but if you are looking for the most familiar expression, my personal opinion is to go with bottle-bottom glasses or glasses with bottle-bottom lenses. To make it even more colloqiual, perhaps substitute "glasses" with "specs".

But really, if you are looking to be creative, any of these could be great. I particularly like "jam-jar glasses" which I haven't heard before but makes me laugh because jam jars are much wider than most bottles so it conjurs up the idea of huge oversized lenses.

  • 6
    "Most familiar" is going to depend on the audience, so "bottle-bottom specs" might be the best choice for people who are talking to you and your neighbors, but it would not be a good choice in my part of the US (or any part of the US, so far as I can tell), and might or might not work in Australia, India, Canada, etc. – 1006a Sep 28 '18 at 19:05

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