from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large sideboard with drawers and cupboards.
  • n. A counter or table from which meals or refreshments are served.
  • n. A restaurant having such a counter.
  • n. A meal at which guests serve themselves from various dishes displayed on a table or sideboard.
  • adj. Informally served: a buffet luncheon.
  • n. A blow or cuff with or as if with the hand.
  • transitive v. To hit or beat, especially repeatedly.
  • transitive v. To strike against forcefully; batter: winds that buffeted the tent. See Synonyms at beat.
  • transitive v. To drive or force with or as if with repeated blows: was buffeted about from job to job by the vagaries of the economy.
  • transitive v. To force (one's way) with difficulty.
  • intransitive v. To force one's way with difficulty: a ship buffeting against the wind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A counter or sideboard from which food and drinks are served or may be bought.
  • n. Food laid out in this way, to which diners serve themselves.
  • n. A blow or cuff with or as if with the hand, or by any other solid object or the wind.
  • v. To strike or blow with a buffet or buffets.
  • n. A low stool; a hassock.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cupboard or set of shelves, either movable or fixed at one side of a room, for the display of plate, china, etc., a sideboard.
  • n. A counter for food or refreshments.
  • n. A restaurant containing such a counter, as at a railroad station, or place of public gathering.
  • n. A meal set out on a buffet[2], arranged so that guests may serve themselves and choose those items that they desire. Diners usually take a plate provided and move in a line past the items on the buffet[2], placing those items they desire on the plate, to be eaten at some convenient place.
  • n. A blow with the hand; a slap on the face; a cuff.
  • n. A blow from any source, or that which affects like a blow, as the violence of winds or waves; a stroke; an adverse action; an affliction; a trial; adversity.
  • n. A small stool; a stool for a buffet or counter.
  • intransitive v. To exercise or play at boxing; to strike; to smite; to strive; to contend.
  • intransitive v. To make one's way by blows or struggling.
  • transitive v. To strike with the hand or fist; to box; to beat; to cuff; to slap.
  • transitive v. To affect as with blows; to strike repeatedly; to strive with or contend against.
  • transitive v. To deaden the sound of (bells) by muffling the clapper.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strike with the hand or fist; box; beat.
  • To beat in contention; contend against as if with blows: as, to buffet the billows.
  • To exercise at boxing; box; contend with blows of the fists; hence, to force one's way by buffeting.
  • n. A blow with the fist; a box; a cuff; a slap; hence, hard usage of any kind suggestive of blows; a violent shock or concussion: as, “fortune's buffets,”
  • n. A blast of wind.
  • n. A cupboard, sideboard, or closet, designed to hold china, crystal, plate, and other like articles.
  • n. The space set apart for refreshments in public places.
  • n. That part of the cabinet-work of an organ which incloses the pipes.
  • n. Same as buffet-stool. Wright, Prov. Dict.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. usually inexpensive bar
  • n. a meal set out on a buffet at which guests help themselves
  • v. strike, beat repeatedly
  • v. strike against forcefully
  • n. a piece of furniture that stands at the side of a dining room; has shelves and drawers


Middle English, from Old French buffet, diminutive of buffe, blow.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French, of unknown origin; compare Italian buffetto; perhaps related to the noun under Etymology 3 (Wiktionary)
Old French buffet, diminutive of buffe; see buffer, buffoon, and compare German puffen, to jostle, to hustle (Wiktionary)
Old French, of unknown origin. (Wiktionary)


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  • The wind buffeted the buffet.

    January 3, 2010

  • I like to pronounce it "boofay"

    December 14, 2006

  • My favourite thing about this word is applying it in wildly inappropriate metaphors. It's great for how it can evoke that image of a table where there's more variety than quality and you have to weed through for whatever is salvageable.

    December 11, 2006