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[kaw-fee, kof-ee] /ˈkɔ fi, ˈkɒf i/
a beverage consisting of a decoction or infusion of the roasted ground or crushed seeds (coffee beans) of the two-seeded fruit (coffee berry) of certain coffee trees.
the seeds or fruit themselves.
any tropical tree or shrub of the genus Coffea, of the madder family, especially C. arabica and C. canephora, cultivated commercially.
a cup of coffee:
We ordered four coffees and three doughnuts.
a social gathering at which coffee and other refreshments are served.
medium to dark brown.
Origin of coffee
1590-1600; < Italian caffè < Turkish kahve < Arabic qahwah Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for coffee
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We had some coffee with us, but were too tired to infuse it.

    Fast in the Ice R.M. Ballantyne
  • I was vexed at this mishap, for I did not like to drink my coffee without milk.

    Down The River Oliver Optic
  • Standing on the grounds does not spoil the flavor of coffee as it does tea.

    Dishes & Beverages of the Old South Martha McCulloch Williams
  • A thick liquor comes through, having the appearance of coffee.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • Then he got the cream, sugar and three spoons, put them on the table, and poured the coffee.

    Stopover William Gerken
British Dictionary definitions for coffee


  1. a drink consisting of an infusion of the roasted and ground or crushed seeds of the coffee tree
  2. (as modifier): coffee grounds
Also called coffee beans. the beanlike seeds of the coffee tree, used to make this beverage
short for coffee tree
  1. a medium to dark brown colour
  2. (as adjective): a coffee carpet
wake up and smell the coffee, See wake1 (sense 7)
Word Origin
C16: from Italian caffè, from Turkish kahve, from Arabic qahwah coffee
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 coffee

c.1600, from Italian caffe, from Turkish kahveh, from Arabic qahwah "coffee," said originally to have meant "wine," but perhaps rather from Kaffa region of Ethiopia, a home of the plant (coffee in Kaffa is called buno, which was borrowed into Arabic as bunn "raw coffee"). Much initial diversity of spelling, including chaoua.

Yemen was the first great coffee exporter and to protect its trade decreed that no living plant could leave the country. In 16c., a Muslim pilgrim brought some coffee beans from Yemen and raised them in India. Appeared in Europe (from Arabia) c.1515-1519. Introduced to England by 1650, and by 1675 the country had more than 3,000 coffee houses. Coffee plantations established in Brazil 1727. Meaning "a light meal at which coffee is served" is from 1774. Coffee break attested from 1952, at first often in glossy magazine advertisements by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau. Coffee pot from 1705.

Did you drink a cup of coffee on company time this morning? Chances are that you did--for the midmorning coffee break is rapidly becoming a standard fixture in American offices and factories. ["The Kiplinger Magazine," March 1952]

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


Related Terms

cup of coffee

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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