When you see the word buffet, it's hard not to think "all-you-can-eat." Although the noun can refer to food set out for self-service, buffet also means "a blow, especially with the hand" or, as a verb, "to strike sharply."

The two meanings of buffet come from very different sources. The self-serve meal buffet — from 18th century French and pronounced buh-FAY — is named after a piece of furniture, bufet ("sideboard"), on which such a meal might be served. The meaning of hitting, however, comes from the Old French word bufe, "a blow" or "a puff of wind," and is pronounced BUH-fit. If the wind buffets the windows of your house, it can make them rattle in their frames, and if you are buffeted by bad news, you might shake in your shoes.

Definitions of buffet

n a piece of furniture that stands at the side of a dining room; has shelves and drawers

counter, sideboard
credence, credenza
a kind of sideboard or buffet
cellaret, minibar
sideboard with compartments for holding bottles
Type of:
article of furniture, furniture, piece of furniture
furnishings that make a room or other area ready for occupancy

v strike, beat repeatedly

“The wind buffeted him”
Type of:
deal a blow to, either with the hand or with an instrument

v strike against forcefully

“Winds buffeted the tent”
batter, knock about
Type of:
deliver a sharp blow, as with the hand, fist, or weapon

n a meal set out on a buffet at which guests help themselves

an assortment of foods starting with herring or smoked eel or salmon etc with bread and butter; then cheeses and eggs and pickled vegetables and aspics; finally hot foods; served as a buffet meal
Type of:
meal, repast
the food served and eaten at one time

n usually inexpensive bar

snack bar, snack counter
a snack bar in a film studio
milk bar
snack bar that sells milk drinks and light refreshments (such as ice cream)
Type of:
a counter where you can obtain food or drink

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