from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small elevator used to convey food or other goods from one floor of a building to another.
  • noun A portable serving stand or table.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small lift / elevator used to move food etc. from one floor of a building to another.
  • noun A portable table used for serving.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • As a kid I used to use dumbwaiter for number codes because it has 10 letters and all are different. So, d = 1, u = 2, m = 3 and so on.

    In my address book I'd write people's phone numbers in the form: weaubeme for example. I liked turning numbers into words because I liked words more than numbers. Still do :-7

    I considered using artichokes but I'd never eaten one at the time so it seemed a bit presumptious. What if I tried one and didn't like it? My word-number code would suddenly be revolting. But I'd seen a dumbwaiter in a hotel we'd stayed in on holiday so that seemed quite okay.

    July 18, 2008

  • See "Keeping Secrets" list for a bunch more codewords.

    July 18, 2008

  • Also listed under dumb waiter.

    December 4, 2010