Dumb waiter and dumbwaiter

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Dumb waiter and dumbwaiter are two words that are used interchangeably for an invention that has been around since Roman times, though the terms dumb waiter and dumbwaiter date back to the 1700s. We will examine the definition for dumb waiter and dumbwaiter, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A dumb waiter or dumbwaiter is a small freight elevator used to transport food or dirty dishes from meals between floors in a house or other building. Today, dumb waiters are most often found in large restaurants and hotels where serving meals between floors might be common. Dumb waiters were common in large American homes in the mid-1800s. The term dumb waiter is derived from the word dumb as in silent, and waiter meaning a person who serves the table. The word dumb waiter originally applied to a piece of furniture popular in Britain in the 1700s, which was a rolling table with movable parts designed to serve food. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the two-word spelling, as in dumb waiter, but the one-word spelling, dumbwaiter, is listed in other dictionaries and is used much more often.


Each flat came with a small kitchen, whilst a dumb waiter connected the residential floors to the larger communal kitchen downstairs. (Hampstead and Highgate Express)

Though they have lived in the home since 2006, pieces of mismatched hardwood, a dumbwaiter that has been in the basement since they moved in and a decades-old bloodstain in the kitchen remain inexplicable. (The Canon City Daily Record)

Self-driving cars and dumbwaiter-style garages could eventually displace the time-honored tradition of driving around the block looking for a spot while cursing the number of cars in the area. (The Colombian)