A credenza is an American genteelism to describe a dining room sideboard cupboard, particularly one where a central cupboard is flanked by quadrant glass display cabinets, and usually made of burnished and polished wood and decorated with marquetry. The top would often be made of marble, or another decorative liquid- and heat-resistant stone. The term credenza became very fashionable in the US during the second half of the 19th century.
In modern times, a credenza is more often a type of sideboard used in the home or restaurant. In dining rooms, it is typically made from wood and used as a platform to serve buffet meals. In restaurant kitchens, made from stainless steel, it provides a side surface and storage cupboards.
Originally in Italian the name meant belief. In the 16th century the act of credenza was the tasting of food and drinks by a servant for a lord or other important person (such as the pope or a cardinal) in order to test for poison. The name passed then to the room where the act took place, then to the furniture.
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- Credenza is in the March 2014 online update of the OED as "A sideboard, free-standing cupboard, or storage chest, orig. Italian or of Italian style," expanding the 1989 print edition's "A sideboard." It also appears in OED as Credence, as well as in John Gloag, A Short Dictionary of Furniture (London, 1977), where Credence is described as "a small side-table for vessels, used as a serving table," noting 16th-century usage and quoting John Britton, A Dictionary of the Art and Archaeology of the Middle Ages 1838: "a shelf-like projection placed across a piscina, or within a niche as a place for sacred vessels used at mass; also a buffet or sideboard for plate."
- Merriam-Webster online: Credenza: "a sideboard, buffet, or bookcase patterned after a Renaissance CREDENCE; especially : one without legs".
- The Parisian late 18th-century commode à vantaux was soon imitated in London and in the early 19th century in the United States.
- Definition at Dizionario Etimologico Online
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