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My old Japanese-English dictionary (Random House, published on 1993) provides example sentences of the verb "fill" as follows:

  • fill sand into a pail [=fill a pail with sand] バケツに砂を入れる

  • fill wine into bottles ぶどう酒を瓶に詰める.

I can't find this usage on some famous online English dictionaries such as Longman and Collins. Is this usage of "fill" correct?

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  • @randomhead Good answer, what's it doing in the comments? Sep 28, 2021 at 1:08
  • @the-baby: Good point, answered and expanded.
    – randomhead
    Sep 28, 2021 at 1:52

1 Answer 1

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I (a native AmE speaker) do not recognize this usage and would not call it idiomatic.

We say someone fills a vessel [direct object] with a substance [indirect object]: Fill a pail with sand. We can also make it passive, or change the subject of the sentence while keeping the meaning:

  • The pail is filled with sand.
  • Sand fills the pail.

If you want to keep the substance as the direct object and the vessel as the indirect object, we use the verb pour instead: Pour wine into bottles. Unlike with "fill," "pour" only works one way:

  • [x] The bottles are poured with wine.
  • [✓] Wine is poured into the bottles.

"Pour" is used for things that can flow; wine is a liquid and can flow, and grains of sand, in the aggregate, can also exhibit fluid-like properties (it is perfectly fine to "pour sand into a pail"). For objects which do not flow, we must use another verb, like pack:

  • The suitcase is packed with clothes.
  • Clothes are packed into the suitcase.
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  • FWIW, I cannot read the symbol in "[?] The bottles are poured with wine" either on my PC or my phone, in Firefox or Chrome.
    – gotube
    Sep 28, 2021 at 4:44
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    @gotube edited. According to my symbols picker it was the Aegean check mark U+10102 and should appear as an "x" symbol.
    – randomhead
    Sep 28, 2021 at 5:09

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