a small elevator, manually or electrically operated, consisting typically of a box with shelves, used in apartment houses, restaurants, and large private dwellings for moving dishes, food, garbage, etc., between floors.
  1. an auxiliary serving table.
  2. a serving stand with tiers of revolving shelves.
  3. a serving cart.

Origin of dumbwaiter

First recorded in 1745–55; dumb + waiter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dumbwaiter

Contemporary Examples of dumbwaiter

  • The morning after a wild night, Stone whips up some eggs and English muffins and sends them upstairs in a dumbwaiter to Carrie.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Do I Have to Read Kisser?

    William Boot

    February 13, 2010

Historical Examples of dumbwaiter

  • Open the little door to the dumbwaiter in the pantry and find supplies.

    A Woman for Mayor

    Helen M. Winslow

  • "I told you we have taken nothing from the dumbwaiter," impatiently.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • For it opened upon what seemed to be just a dumbwaiter shaft.

    The Bradys' Chinese Clew

    Francis Worcester Doughty

  • Out with the other refuse of the day, sir—on the dumbwaiter.

    In And Out

    Edgar Franklin

  • A dumbwaiter is like a little elevator, except that, as a rule, no one rides in it.

British Dictionary definitions for dumbwaiter



  1. a stand placed near a dining table to hold food
  2. a revolving circular tray placed on a table to hold foodUS and Canadian name: lazy Susan
a lift for carrying food, rubbish, etc, between floors
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

Word Origin and History for dumbwaiter

1749, an article of furniture, from dumb (adj.) + waiter (apparently because it serves as a waiter but is silent). As a movable platform for passing dishes, etc., up and down from one room (especially a basement kitchen) to another, from 1847.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper