May 05, 2012
- cafeteria (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : a restaurant in which the customers serve themselves or are served at a counter but carry their own food to their tables2 : a room (as in a school) where lunches may be eaten : lunchroom
- How do you use it?
- Our local newspaper now prints a weekly menu showing what will be served for lunch in the school cafeteria.
- Are you a word wiz?
Which one of these words do you think was first being used in English around the same time as "cafeteria"?Serve yourself a double helping of congratulations if you picked A. Both "cafeteria" and "vending machine" first surfaced in the late 1800s. Although "cafeteria" is likely borrowed from "café"-- the Spanish word for "coffee" -- early evidence for its use in Spanish is slim. Its first use in English shows up in Chicago in 1895, when a "Cafetiria Catering Company" opened four self-service style restaurants. Other coinages such as "marketeria," "gaseteria," and "washeteria" followed, but they mostly faded after World War II. The "cafeteria" has survived mainly in schools and hospitals, but has faced stiff competition elsewhere from the fast-food restaurant.