[ben-toh; Japanese ben-taw]

noun, plural ben·tos; Japanese ben·to. Japanese Cookery.

a meal, usually served in a lacquered or elaborately decorated box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food.

Origin of bento

< Japanese bentō, probably < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese bān manage, provide + dāng apply, i.e., provision for an eat-out meal
Also called obento. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bento

Historical Examples of bento

  • All the same, after two days he bids his wife get out his best hakama and haouri, and to make up his bento for a journey.

  • I sat down in the tea-house on the soft mats, and my bento—Japanese lunch—was served to me on a tiny table.

    Alone with the Hairy Ainu

    A. H. Savage Landor

  • About this time several windows in the car went up, and many voices took up the cry of "Bento."

    The Honorable Percival

    Alice Hegan Rice

  • While Father Bento de Matos was in that island, two remarkable things occurred to him.

  • On the railway one is well catered for by the provision of bento (lunch) boxes, sold on the platforms of stations.

    The Foundations of Japan

    J.W. Robertson Scott

British Dictionary definitions for bento


bento box

noun plural -tos

a thin box, made of plastic or lacquered wood, divided into compartments which contain small separate dishes comprising a Japanese meal, esp lunch

Word Origin for bento

Japanese bentō box lunch
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