JUG, a vessel for holding liquid, usually with one handle and a lip, made of earthenware, glass or metal. The origin of the word in this sense is uncertain, but it is probably identical with a shortened form of the feminine name Joan or Joanna; cf. the similar use of Jack and Jill or Gill for a drinking-vessel or a liquor measure. It has also been used as a common expression for a homely woman, a servant-girl, a sweetheart, sometimes in a sense of disparagement. In slang, " jug " or " stone-jug " is used to denote a prison; this may possibly be an adaptation of Fr. joug, yoke, La.t.jugum. The word "jug " is probably onomatopoeic when used to represent a particular note of the nightingale's song, or applied locally to various small birds, as the hedge-jug, etc.
The British Museum contains a remarkable bronze jug which was found at Kumasi during the Ashanti Expedition of 1896. It dates from the reign of Richard II., and is decorated in relief with the arms of England and the badge of the king. It has a lid, spout and handle, which ends in a quatrefoil. An inscription, on three raised bands round the body of the vessel, modernized runs: " He that will not spare when he may shall not spend when he would. Deem the best in every doubt till the truth be tried out." The British Museum Guide to the Medieval Room contains an illustration of this vessel.
A particular form of jug is the " ewer," the precursor of the ordinary bedroom jug (an adaptation of O. Fr. ewaire, med. Lat. aquaria, water-pitcher, from aqua, water). The ewer was a jug with a wide spout, and was principally used at table for pouring water over the hands after eating, a matter of some necessity before the introduction of forks. Early ewers are sometimes mounted on three feet, and bear inscriptions such as Venez laver. A basin of similar material and design accompanied the ewer. In the 13th and 14th centuries a special type of metal ewer takes the form of animals, men on horseback, etc.; these are generally known as aquamaniles, from med. Lat. aqua manile or aqua manale (aqua, water, and manare, to trickle, pour, drip). The British Museum contains several examples.
In the 18th and early 1gth centuries were made the drinkingvessels of pottery known as " Toby jugs," properly Toby Fillpots or Philpots. These take the form of a stout old man, sometimes seated, with a three-cornered hat, the corners of which act as spouts. Similar drinking-vessels were also made representing characters popular at the time, such as " Nelson jugs," etc.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)