An ashtray is a receptacle for ash from cigarettes and cigars. Ashtrays are typically made of fire retardant material such as glass, heat-resistant plastic, pottery, metal, or stone.
The most common ashtray design is a shallow cylinder with a flat base, to rest on a table. Other ashtrays, particularly in public places, are wall mounted, and larger than standard tabletop ashtrays due to the increased use they receive. Many ashtrays have notches at the rim, to hold cigarettes and/or a cigar. Frequently ashtrays were equipped in older large or luxury cars before later being available as dealer-installed accessory items. For example, cars such as the BMW E38 featured ashtrays and lighters installed in both rear doors.
The word "ashtray" itself did not come into common use until 1926. The need for public ash receptacles saw a surge in the post-World War II era when cigarettes began to be manufactured en mass with non-biodegradable filters and inexpensive popular cigars sold affixed with disposable plastic tips.