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[duhm-wey-ter] /ˈdʌmˌweɪ tər/
a small elevator, manually or electrically operated, consisting typically of a box with shelves, used in apartment houses, restaurants, and large private dwellings for moving dishes, food, garbage, etc., between floors.
  1. an auxiliary serving table.
  2. a serving stand with tiers of revolving shelves.
  3. a serving cart.
Origin of dumbwaiter
1745-55; dumb + waiter Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dumbwaiter
Contemporary Examples
  • The morning after a wild night, Stone whips up some eggs and English muffins and sends them upstairs in a dumbwaiter to Carrie.

Historical Examples
  • Rose tied the balloons to a basket, and the clothes basket rides on the dumbwaiter.

  • "I told you we have taken nothing from the dumbwaiter," impatiently.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin Frances R. Sterrett
  • Out with the other refuse of the day, sir—on the dumbwaiter.

    In And Out Edgar Franklin
  • For it opened upon what seemed to be just a dumbwaiter shaft.

    The Bradys' Chinese Clew Francis Worcester Doughty
  • Then the dumbwaiter, which was a sort of open box, slid down on the rope that ran over a pulley-wheel, and Margy was lifted out.

  • A dumbwaiter is like a little elevator, except that, as a rule, no one rides in it.

  • Margy had crawled from the chair in the kitchen into the box of the dumbwaiter.

  • "She must be stuck in the dumbwaiter—that we pull up and down between the kitchen and the laundry," she said.

  • All dishes are to be removed quietly, and either placed in a dumbwaiter or given in charge of a maidservant just outside the door.

    Social Life Maud C. Cooke
British Dictionary definitions for dumbwaiter


  1. a stand placed near a dining table to hold food
  2. a revolving circular tray placed on a table to hold food US and Canadian name lazy Susan
a lift for carrying food, rubbish, etc, between floors
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 dumbwaiter

1749, an article of furniture, from dumb (adj.) + waiter (apparently because it serves as a waiter but is silent). As a movable platform for passing dishes, etc., up and down from one room (especially a basement kitchen) to another, from 1847.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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