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

  • n. An eastern Asian evergreen shrub or small tree (Camellia sinensis) having fragrant, nodding, cup-shaped white flowers and glossy leaves.
  • n. The young, dried leaves of this plant, prepared by various processes and used to make a hot beverage.
  • n. An aromatic, slightly bitter beverage made by steeping tea leaves in boiling water.
  • n. Any of various beverages, made as by steeping the leaves of certain plants or by extracting an infusion especially from beef.
  • n. Any of various plants having leaves used to make a tealike beverage.
  • n. A tea rose.
  • n. Chiefly British An afternoon refreshment consisting usually of sandwiches and cakes served with tea.
  • n. Chiefly British High tea.
  • n. An afternoon reception or social gathering at which tea is served.
  • n. Slang Marijuana.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The dried leaves or buds of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
  • n. The drink made by infusing these dried leaves or buds in hot water.
  • n. A variety of the tea plant
  • n. By extension, any drink made by infusing parts of various other plants.
  • n. A cup of any one of these drinks, often with a small amount of milk or cream added and sweetened with sugar or honey.
  • n. A glass of iced tea, typically served with ice cubes and sometimes with a slice or wedge of lemon.
  • n. A light meal eaten mid-afternoon, typically with tea.
  • n. The main evening meal, irrespective of whether tea is drunk with it.
  • n. The break in play between the second and third sessions.
  • n. Marijuana.
  • v. To drink tea
  • v. To take afternoon tea (the light meal)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The prepared leaves of a shrub, or small tree (Thea Chinensis or Camellia Chinensis). The shrub is a native of China, but has been introduced to some extent into some other countries.
  • n. A decoction or infusion of tea leaves in boiling water.
  • n. Any infusion or decoction, especially when made of the dried leaves of plants
  • n. The evening meal, at which tea is usually served; supper.
  • intransitive v. To take or drink tea.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To take tea.
  • To give tea to; serve with tea: as, to dine and tea a party of friends.
  • See tae.
  • n. A product consisting of the prepared leaves of the tea-plant (see def. 2), of various kinds and qualities depending chiefly on the method of treatment.
  • n. The tea-plant, Camellia theifera, often named Thea Sinensis (or Chinensis).
  • n. An infusion of the prepared leaves of the tea-plant, used as a beverage, in Great Britain and America commonly with the addition of a little milk or sugar, or both, in continental Europe often with a little spirit, in Russia with lemon, and in China and neighboring countries without any admixture.
  • n. A similar infusion of the leaves, roots, etc., of various other plants, used either medicinally or as a beverage: generally with a qualifying word. See phrases below.
  • n. The evening meal, at which tea is usually served; also, an afternoon entertainment at which tea is served: as, a five o'clock tea. See high tea, under high.
  • n. Urine.
  • n. Same as mate.
  • n. See Psoralea.

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

  • n. a light midafternoon meal of tea and sandwiches or cakes
  • n. a beverage made by steeping tea leaves in water
  • n. a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree extensively cultivated in e.g. China and Japan and India; source of tea leaves
  • n. a reception or party at which tea is served
  • n. dried leaves of the tea shrub; used to make tea


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

Probably Dutch thee, from Malay teh, from Chinese (Amoy) te (equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) chá).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originally from Min Nan (POJ: tê, Chinese: ). The word was brought to the West by the Dutch East India Company as thee, the Dutch approximation of the Min Nan pronunciation (compare the Malay word teh). The Mandarin pronunciation (chá) of the same Chinese character () is the source of the English word chai and the Russian and Arabic words for tea. ("The World Atlas of Language Structures Online" has a special chapter dedicated to the origin of the word for tea in different languages: .)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Usage/historical note can be found on tobacco.

    December 6, 2016

  • “Tea's proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence�?

    -Samuel Johnson

    July 22, 2009

  • and also torch in spanish

    July 10, 2009

  • Norwegian female name.

    March 29, 2009

  • Must have been all that caffeine.

    January 31, 2009

  • Unexpected consequences of the Boston Tea Party...

    "L O N D O N, January 28.

    Letters from Boston complain much of the Taste of their Fish being altered. Four or five Hundred Chests of Tea may have so contaminated the Water in the Harbour that the Fish may have contracted a Disorder, not unlike the nervous Complaints of the human Body. Should this Complaint extend itself as far as the Banks of Newfoundland, our Spanish and Portugal Fish Trade may be much affected by it."

    Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon), May 5, 1774

    January 30, 2009

  • "To the Public.

    The long expected TEA SHIP arrived last night at Sandy-Hook, but the pilot would not bring up the Captain till the sense of the city was known. The committee were immediately informed of her arrival, and that the Captain solicits for liberty to come up to provide necessaries for his return. The ship to remain at Sandy-Hook. The committee conceiving it to be the sense of the city that he should have such liberty, signified it to the Gentleman who is to supply him with provisions, and other necessaries. Advice of this was immediately dispatched to the Captain; and whenever he comes up, care will be taken that he does not enter at the custom-house, and that no time be lost in dispatching him.

    New-York, April 19, 1774."

    "The TEA destroyed at Boston amounts to upwards of 8000l. £."

    Virginia Gazette, May 26, 1774

    "Information received yesterday, that on the last Day of February, or a Day or two in the Month of March, the Fortune had arrived in the Port of Boston with Tea on Board, and that the Mob had assembled in a tumultuous Manner, gone aboard this Ship, and destroyed the Cargo."

    Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon), June 16, 1774

    January 29, 2009

  • "The dramatic increase of people available to populate the new urban spaces of the Industrial Age may have had one other cause: tea. The population growth during the first half of the eighteenth century neatly coincided with the mass adoption of tea as the de facto national beverage... Brewed tea possesses several crucial antibacterial properties that help ward off waterborne diseases: the tannic acid released in the steeping process kills off those bacteria that haven't already perished during the boiling of the water. The explosion of tea drinking in the late 1700s was, from the bacteria's point of view, a microbial holocaust... Largely freed from waterborne disease agents, the tea-drinking population began to swell in number, ultimately supplying a larger labor pool to the emerging factory towns, and to the great sprawling monster of London itself."

    —Steven Johnson, The Ghost Map (New York: Penguin, 2006), 94–95

    October 1, 2008

  • Cricket jargon: a 20-minute rest interval during a test match when the players leave the field for refreshments.

    December 16, 2007

  • Now if they could just get a giant vergerhade to hock the tea, they'd be in business!

    October 12, 2007

  • The package had Randy Moss on the front.

    October 12, 2007

  • Oh, that's just silly. The NBA maybe, but the NFL? ;->

    October 12, 2007

  • For some thought-provoking discussion, see: waxed paper.

    In other news, last night I dreamed that Celestial Seasonings had partnered with the NFL for a promotional campaign targeted at 20- and 30-something male sports fans. Oddest dream I've had in a while. It was probably prompted by a recent conversation I had with someone about how tea may or may not be overtaking coffee as the most popular breakfast drink in America.

    October 12, 2007