greasy spoon


: a dingy small cheap restaurant

Did you know?

In the decades following its first use in 1902, the surrounding context of greasy spoon usually included words along the lines of lousy, wind up eating in, slinging hash, the underside of society, settle for, or rather starve. And while things haven't changed entirely, a recent wave of nostalgia has elevated the status of greasy spoons. Since the 1970s, the descriptions might contain words like fabled, distinction, beloved, classic, an institution, fondness for, and comfort food. Now you can consult a Greasy Spoon Guide and read up on Best Greasy Spoons, or lunch at a diner restored to look like a greasy spoon. Some of these eateries are now even named "The Greasy Spoon."

Examples of greasy spoon in a Sentence

We ate at some greasy spoon near the bus station.
Recent Examples on the Web Menemsha Galley is perfect for a lobster roll, a fish sandwich or a burger, but don’t skimp on the soft-serve ice cream dipped in chocolate. Dock Street Coffee Shop, a single-counter greasy spoon, hasn’t changed much in its nearly 50-year history. Remy Tumin, New York Times, 29 June 2023 After your stroll, pull up a stool at the Dock Street Coffee Shop, a single-counter greasy spoon, and recharge with eggs and home fries ($8). Remy Tumin, New York Times, 29 June 2023 Remember waiting half an hour in a greasy spoon to order a hamburger? Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 6 June 2023 Such a scenario is nothing new for John Wick fans, even if Byun, who also wrote the script, applies a few welcome twists, including a band of fellow assassins that Boksoon hangs out with in a rundown greasy spoon restaurant on the outskirts of Seoul. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Feb. 2023 Just your typical, no-frills greasy spoon. Paige Darrah, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2022 The destinations would change, but the lunch options were consistent—often biscuits, peanuts, and fried chicken at some greasy spoon—the iconic cuisine of the eastern end of the Sun Belt and for us, a family from Puerto Rico, quintessentially American. Von Diaz, Condé Nast Traveler, 5 July 2022 An attorney for Tanios — who operated a greasy spoon called Sandwich U in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University— said there was no advance planning and that her client had bought the chemical sprays only for self protection in the event of violence against Trump supporters. Star Tribune, 11 May 2021 There is a quintessential greasy spoon breakfast spot, WiseCracks Cafe. Bon Appétit Contributor, Bon Appétit, 27 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'greasy spoon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1902, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of greasy spoon was in 1902


Dictionary Entries Near greasy spoon

Cite this Entry

“Greasy spoon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on greasy spoon

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!