- a restaurant in which patrons wait on themselves, carrying their food to tables from counters where it is displayed and served.
- a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines or where food brought from home may be eaten.
Origin of cafeteria
Examples from the Web for cafeteria
Maybe Rutgers should add more vegan selections to its cafeteria fare.My Commencement Speech to Rutgers’ Geniuses: Go Forth and Fail
P. J. O’Rourke
May 18, 2014
The bell for lunch rings, and I slowly pull myself out of my desk and drag my feet down the hall toward the cafeteria.How to Be Popular, ’50s Style: ‘Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek’
Maya Van Wagenen
April 17, 2014
When I inquired, she told me that she hates the fact that in the cafeteria, white students rarely sit with black students.White Folks Can Talk About Race
Roland S. Martin
April 16, 2014
Last October 28, after a cafeteria room prank, Martin abruptly left the team.Richie Incognito and the NFL's Nasty Warrior Culture
February 15, 2014
First gold medal of the Olympics won by U.S. in the Sliding Down Hill Behind the Dorm on Cafeteria Tray event.Up to a Point: P.J. O’Rourke on Valentine’s Day and Oral Hygiene
P. J. O’Rourke
February 14, 2014
Near noon he set himself to watch the entrance of the cafeteria.
He hated to admit, as he stood there in the drizzle, his defeat by a cafeteria check.
Half the compartments in the area were deserted, the men leaving for the cafeteria.Gold in the Sky
Alan Edward Nourse
But cafeterias are very fine for those who have cafeteria sense.
They are cafeteria wise, they have a cafeteria class consciousness.
- a self-service restaurant
Word Origin and History for cafeteria
1839, American English, from Mexican Spanish cafeteria "coffee store," from café "coffee" (see coffee) + Spanish -tería "place where something is done" (usually business). The ending came to be understood popularly as meaning "help-yourself" (as though café + -teria) and was extended to new formation with that sense from c.1923.