The Greek word φιάλη (phiálē) is translated in the King James Bible as “vial”. We can recognize its transliteration from the pronunciation of the Greek word.
But this doesn’t mean that two thousands of years later our transliteration applies. Is it a larger object like bowl as translated in other Bible versions, or a small cylinder used to secret a strong medicine or poison? Since this Greek word is found only in this circumstance in Revelation, we can’t visualize it by seeing how it’s used in another setting in the gospels or letters.
We are forced to drill down into the word itself. Etymology. According to Beekes, the root word άλη is found in σκυτ-άλη (staff, stem, handle) and γύ-αλον (hollowed space). OK., that’s no help. Still a variety of applications.
Drilling down further to hit pay dirt, Beekes states this word is probably from Pre-Greek. That explains its broad and divergent applications developed over time, requiring us to search ancient uses of this word. In order to understand what the Greek word φιάλη (phiálē) means, we have to place it in its most ancient historical and cultural context.