caf·e·te·ria | \ˌka-fə-ˈtir-ē-ə \

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

Babineau told him the Chevy belonged to Debra Davis, a cafeteria worker beloved by students for her sunny, outgoing personality. Diane Bell,, "When Hoover High cafeteria worker's story goes viral, her 'other life' is revealed," 13 July 2018 The Oklahoma teachers' union wanted $10,000 raises for teachers; $5,000 raises for support staff, such as janitors and cafeteria workers; and $200 million in education funding. Holly Yan, CNN, "Here's what teachers accomplished with their protests this year," 29 May 2018 Annually, the Swedish furniture emporium hosts a buffet meal of the cafeteria’s most popular offerings. Beth Spotswood,, "At least no assembly’s required for forgettable IKEA all-you-can-eat deal," 19 June 2018 One scene will be beautifully shot, with lighting that’s full of life, and the next will have the dim, gray-green look of a hospital cafeteria. Kristen Page-kirby, kansascity, "‘SuperFly’ makes a decent but unnecessary return," 14 June 2018 With little inducement, Cavaliere sat in a chair perched in the center of the school's cafeteria as staff, faculty, and students looked on. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Principal Honors Bet For Autism Awareness Month," 15 May 2018 The restaurant itself is modern in design and evoked the feeling of a large company cafeteria with quality food and the convenience of a fast food buffet. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "My first IKEA experience: What newbies can expect when the store opens in Oak Creek May 16," 9 May 2018 Her legacy’s best representative is a meat-and-three plate from the serving line of this down-home cafeteria, with fried chicken or hamhocks or smothered pork chops and sides that range from yams to collard greens to memorable mac and cheese. San Antonio Express-News, "Mr. & Mrs. G’s Home Cooking," 8 Mar. 2018 The schools appreciate that Moses handles the ordering, payment, pickup, and food distribution in the cafeteria. Melissa Kossler Dutton, The Christian Science Monitor, "How food deliveries could change lunchtime at school," 10 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for cafeteria

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for cafeteria

The first known use of cafeteria was in 1894

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English Language Learners Definition of cafeteria

: a place (such as a restaurant or a room in a school) where people get food at a counter and carry it to a table for eating


caf·e·te·ria | \ˌka-fə-ˈtir-ē-ə \

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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Comments on cafeteria

What made you want to look up cafeteria? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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