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cafeteria

[kaf-i-teer-ee-uh] /ˌkæf ɪˈtɪər i ə/
noun
1.
a restaurant in which patrons wait on themselves, carrying their food to tables from counters where it is displayed and served.
2.
a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines or where food brought from home may be eaten.
Origin of cafeteria
1830-1840
1830-40, Americanism; < American Spanish cafetería café, equivalent to Spanish cafeter(a) coffeemaker (< French caf(f)etière; café coffee + -ière, feminine of -ier -ier2; t apparently by analogy with words such as bouquetière flower seller, from bases ending in t) + -ía -ia
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cafeteria
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then call the cafeteria and have them send up three dinners.

    Day of the Moron Henry Beam Piper
  • He hated to admit, as he stood there in the drizzle, his defeat by a cafeteria check.

  • It was late in the afternoon when he left the cafeteria and the cheerful activities of the lot were drawing to a close.

    Merton of the Movies Harry Leon Wilson
  • They are cafeteria wise, they have a cafeteria class consciousness.

  • They had to walk way up to Pennsylvania Avenue before they found a cafeteria.

    Jerry's Charge Account Hazel Hutchins Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for cafeteria

cafeteria

/ˌkæfɪˈtɪərɪə/
noun
1.
a self-service restaurant
Word Origin
C20: from American Spanish: coffee shop
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cafeteria
n.

1839, American English, from Mexican Spanish cafeteria "coffee store," from café "coffee" (see coffee) + Spanish -tería "place where something is done" (usually business). The ending came to be understood popularly as meaning "help-yourself" (as though café + -teria) and was extended to new formation with that sense from c.1923.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cafeteria

cafeteria

modifier

Allowing a range of choice; Smorgasbord: cafeteria insurance plans (1980s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Word Value for cafeteria

14
15
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