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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
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for cafeteria
  • They thought they'd help themselves, on the cafeteria principle, to the maximum amount they could safely get away with.
  • Now a new study suggests that the same strategy can get kids to make healthy choices in the school cafeteria.
  • Muskrat lunch was also available in the school cafeteria.
  • The camps are on college campuses, and so lunch is usually at the college cafeteria.
  • Nieves is one of nine employees of a cafeteria that is operated by clients for clients.
  • It's always something, she says with a shrug over coffee in the police cafeteria.
  • Homework horror stories are as timeworn as school bullies and cafeteria mystery meat.
  • They had a school of home economics there, and it had a cafeteria which was cheap and wonderful.
  • Even in the school cafeteria students of all ages can mingle.
  • The museum's cafeteria offers hearty, healthy fare at reasonable prices.
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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Encyclopedia Article for cafeteria

self-service restaurant in which customers select various dishes from an open-counter display. The food is usually placed on a tray, paid for at a cashier's station, and carried to a dining table by the customer. The modern cafeteria, designed to facilitate a smooth flow of patrons, is particularly well-adapted to the needs of institutions-schools, hospitals, corporations-attempting to serve large numbers of people efficiently and inexpensively. In addition to providing quick service, the cafeteria requires fewer service personnel than most other commercial eating establishments.

Learn more about cafeteria with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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