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In the British Isles, elevenses (pronunciation: /ɨˈlɛvənzɨz/) is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning.[1] It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of coffee or tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11 am. In Australia and New Zealand, a similar mealbreak is known as morning tea, shortened to mornos in the Royal Australian Navy and more formally known as a morning tea.[citation needed]

During the first decades of the 19th century, in the United States, elevenses was a custom of a late-morning whiskey break.[2]

In Sweden elevenses is a tradition mostly associated with elderly people. The Swedish word is "elva-kaffe" meaning "eleven-coffee". It is often served with some kind of biscuits but the main focus is on the coffee.[citation needed] In West Friesland country people had a similar meal called "konkelstik" (served at "konkeltoid", the proper time for "konkelen", a verb denoting "making a visit").[3][4]

In some parts of Ireland, elevenses is taken as a break from work to share chocolate. Typically said chocolate is stored in a refrigerator to keep it cool.

In many Spanish-speaking cultures, such as that of Colombia, the term las onces (the elevens in Spanish) is used to describe a similar meal. Among Chileans it has shifted to later in the afternoon, more closely reflecting the pattern of British "tea time".[5]

In literature[edit]

For elevenses, Winnie-the-Pooh preferred honey on bread with condensed milk. Paddington Bear often took elevenses at the antique shop on Portobello Road run by his friend Mr. Gruber.[6] Paddington would buy the buns and Mr. Gruber would make the cocoa.

In the Middle-earth stories by J. R. R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), it is a meal eaten by Hobbits between second breakfast and luncheon.[7]

Other uses[edit]

Elevenses is the name of a brand of clothing sold by Anthropologie.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harper, Timothy (1997). Passport United Kingdom: Your Pocket Guide to British Business, Customs and Etiquette. World Trade Press. ISBN 1-885073-28-3. 
  2. ^ Pollan, Michael (October 12, 2003). "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: 10-12-03; The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions Of Obesity". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Thijs, J. G. A. (1984). Taal ter sprake. Nijgh & Van Ditmar. p. 40. ISBN 9789023655930. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Hoekstra, A. C. ter Horst- (1953). "'t Pistoal: Een Westfriese historie (1870-1878)". De Speelwagen 8 (10): 303–12. 
  5. ^ Collier, Simon (2004). A History of Chile, 1808-2002. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53484-4. 
  6. ^ Bond, Michael (1997). Paddington abroad. London: Collins. p. 14. ISBN 0007402570. 
  7. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party, ISBN 0-395-08254-4 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of elevensies at Wiktionary