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Not to be confused with Cadenza.
15th- or 16th-century Italian credenza
Modern free-standing credenza

A credenza is a dining room sideboard cupboard, particularly one where a central cupboard is flanked by quadrant glass display cabinets,[1][2] 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 credenza started as a rough table with a cloth draped over it. In early 14th century of Italy, it took on an architectural form with column and pilaster decorations.[3]

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 (etymologically connected to the English word "credence"). 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 may have passed then to the room where the act took place, then to the furniture.[4]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In the television special The Cat in the Hat, the Cat claims to have lost his "moss-covered, three-handled family credenza", and leads a scavenger hunt in search of it. It is never found, but the lady of the house ultimately claims to have seen the credenza in his possession.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online: Credenza: "a sideboard, buffet, or bookcase patterned after a Renaissance CREDENCE; especially: one without legs".
  2. ^ 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".
  3. ^ Payne, Christopher, ed. (1989). Sotheby's Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row. p. 24. ISBN 9780060161415. 
  4. ^ "Etimologia : credenza". Dizionario Etimologico Online. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of credenza at Wiktionary