the serving of oneself in a restaurant, shop, gas station, or other facility, without the aid of a waiter, clerk, attendant, etc.


noting or pertaining to a cafeteria, grocery, store, etc., designed for the patron or customer to gather food or merchandise from a display or display shelves without the aid of attendants and pay at a cashier's desk upon leaving.
of, for, or pertaining to something designed to be used or enjoyed without the aid of an attendant: self-service banking; self-service elevators.

Origin of self-service

First recorded in 1920–25 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for self-service

smorgasbord, buffet, self-serve

Examples from the Web for self-service

Historical Examples of self-service

British Dictionary definitions for self-service



of or denoting a shop, restaurant, petrol station, etc, where the customer serves himself


the practice of serving oneself, as in a shop, etc
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 self-service

1919, in reference to grocery stores, from self- + service (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper