caf·​e·​te·​ria | \ ˌka-fə-ˈtir-ē-ə How to pronounce cafeteria (audio) \

Definition of cafeteria

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a restaurant in which the customers serve themselves or are served at a counter and take the food to tables to eat



Definition of cafeteria (Entry 2 of 2)

: providing a selection from which a choice may be made cafeteria benefit plan a cafeteria curriculum

Examples of cafeteria in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Wrestlers at Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School soon won’t have to train anymore in the cafeteria, while science students will get to do experiments in new, state-of-the art labs. Scott Calvert, WSJ, 9 June 2022 Orlando, Carolina’s ten-year-old son, had stayed in his classroom, while Ruben, Quiroz’s nine-year-old, was in the cafeteria. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, 29 May 2022 Jasmine Carrillo, 29, was working in the cafeteria with about 40 second-graders and two teachers when the attack began. New York Times, 27 May 2022 The hospital posted a status Tuesday afternoon updating followers and asking immediate family of students in their care to meet in the cafeteria. Dan Carson, Chron, 24 May 2022 On Sunday, the HGTV star, 36, shared a selfie in her hospital bed alongside her family friend Rodney, who works in the cafeteria at the hospital's on Instagram. Stephanie Wenger,, 16 May 2022 Video of the incident, which took place during lunchtime in the cafeteria at Kenosha’s Lincoln Middle School on March 4, was captured by students and went viral. Deena Zaru, ABC News, 12 May 2022 There will be a 50/50 raffle, drinks and some snacks available for cash purchase only in the cafeteria throughout the day. John Benson, cleveland, 2 May 2022 On a typical day, roughly 100 of the school’s 346 students stay after school for a hot meal in the cafeteria and an extra hour of instruction. Koby Levin And Isabel Lohman, Detroit Free Press, 2 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cafeteria.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cafeteria


1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1908, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cafeteria


American Spanish cafetería coffeehouse, from cafetera coffee maker, from French cafetière, from café

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Time Traveler for cafeteria

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The first known use of cafeteria was in 1894

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Dictionary Entries Near cafeteria



cafeteria car

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Last Updated

27 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cafeteria.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for cafeteria


caf·​e·​te·​ria | \ ˌka-fə-ˈtir-ē-ə How to pronounce cafeteria (audio) \

Kids Definition of cafeteria

: a place where people get food at a counter and carry it to a table for eating a school cafeteria


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