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[key-ter] /ˈkeɪ tər/
verb (used without object)
to provide food, service, etc., as for a party or wedding:
to cater for a banquet.
to provide or supply what amuses, is desired, or gives pleasure, comfort, etc. (usually followed by to or for):
to cater to popular demand; to cater to an invalid.
verb (used with object)
to provide food and service for:
to cater a party.
Origin of cater
1350-1400; v. use of obsolete cater, Middle English catour, aphetic variant of acatour buyer < Anglo-French, equivalent to acat(er) to buy (see cate) + -our -or2
Related forms
cateringly, adverb
uncatered, adjective
uncatering, adjective
2. humor, indulge, please. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cater
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She does not handle quantities sufficient or cater for consumers enough to gain large knowledge of her business.

    The home Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • If he could cater for a month, no expense should be grudged; as for the future, he thrust it from his mind.

    The Young Duke Benjamin Disraeli
  • Our little friends prefer shelter to warmth, so cater to their taste in the placing of their drinking pool.

    Garden Ornaments Mary H. Northend
  • When dealing with childish persons you have to cater to their whims.

  • I saw cities and gardens built in triumph to cater for the gratification of every sense.

    The Blue Germ Martin Swayne
British Dictionary definitions for cater


(intransitive; foll by for or to) to provide what is required or desired (for): to cater for a need, cater to your tastes
when intr, foll by for. to provide food, services, etc (for): we cater for parties, to cater a banquet
Word Origin
C16: from earlier catour purchaser, variant of acatour, from Anglo-Norman acater to buy, ultimately related to Latin acceptāre to accept
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 cater

"provide food for," c.1600, from Middle English catour (n.) "buyer of provisions" (c.1400; late 13c. as a surname), a shortening of Anglo-French achatour "buyer" (Old North French acatour, Old French achatour, 13c., Modern French acheteur), from Old French achater "to buy," originally "to buy provisions," perhaps from Vulgar Latin *accaptare, from Latin ad- "to" + captare "to take, hold," frequentative of capere "to take" (see capable).

Or else from Vulgar Latin *accapitare "to add to one's capital," with second element from verbal stem of Latin caput (genitive capitis); see capital (adj.). Figuratively from 1650s. Related: Catered; catering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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