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Diner lingo

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Salem Diner in Salem, Massachusetts, US

Diner lingo is a kind of American verbal slang used by cooks and chefs in diners and diner-style restaurants, and by the wait staff to communicate their orders to the cooks.[1][2] Usage of terms with similar meaning, propagated by oral culture within each establishment, may vary by region or even among restaurants in the same locale.[3]


The origin of the lingo is unknown, but there is evidence suggesting it may have been used by waiters as early as the 1870s and 1880s. Many of the terms used are lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek and some are a bit racy or ribald,[3] but are helpful mnemonic devices for short-order cooks and staff.[2] Diner lingo was most popular in diners and luncheonettes from the 1920s to the 1970s.[4][2]

List of terms[edit]

"Adam and Eve on a raft" – two poached eggs on toast
"Take a chance" – corned beef hash

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chu, K.; Felton, C.; Nelson, D.; Kohler, C. (2016). Good Job, Brain!: Trivia, Quizzes and More Fun From the Popular Pub Quiz Podcast. Ulysses Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-61243-625-8. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Grimes, W. (2004). Eating Your Words: 2000 Words to Tease Your Taste Buds. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 209–210. ISBN 978-0-19-517406-9. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stern, J.; Stern, M. (2011). Lexicon of Real American Food. Lyons Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-7627-6830-1. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Albala, K. (2015). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues. SAGE Publications. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-4522-4301-6. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Allan, Patrick (September 29, 2017). "A Quick Lesson in Essential Diner Lingo". Lifehacker. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Reinstein, T. (2013). New England Notebook: One Reporter, Six States, Uncommon Stories. Globe Pequot Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-7627-9538-3. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Kolpas, N. (2005). Practically Useless Information on Food and Drink. Thomas Nelson. pp. 92–94. ISBN 978-1-4185-5389-0. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Smith, A. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. OUP USA. p. 2-PA269. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Leykam, Garrison; Classic Diners of Connecticut; History Press Library Editions; Charleston, South Carolina: 2013.
  10. ^ Mercuri, B. (2009). American Sandwich. Gibbs Smith. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-4236-1192-9. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Zenfell, M.E. (2000). USA on the Road. Insight Guide United States: On the Road. Langenscheidt Publishers Incorporated. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-88729-369-6. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Flanagan, Mark (December 14, 2002). "Barney's Gets New Lease on Life". The Sun Chronicle. Attleboro, Massachusetts. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  13. ^ Stern, J.; Stern, M.; Levkulic, T.; Levkulic, J. (2004). The Famous Dutch Kitchen Restaurant Cookbook. Thomas Nelson. p. 215. ISBN 978-1-4185-3987-0. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  14. ^ Dolgopolov, Y. (2016). A Dictionary of Confusable Phrases: More Than 10,000 Idioms and Collocations. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-7864-5995-7. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  15. ^ Partridge, E. (2015). A Dictionary of the Underworld: British and American. Routledge Revivals: The Selected Works of Eric Partridge. Taylor & Francis. pp. pt760-761. ISBN 978-1-317-44552-4. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Ward, Maggie (20 December 2018). "Common Diner Lingo Phrases and Their Meanings". tasteofhome.com. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  17. ^ Horberry, R. (2010). Sounds Good on Paper: How to Bring Business Language to Life. A&C Black. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-4081-2231-0. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  18. ^ DinerLingo.com – Jayne Mansfield
  19. ^ Why coffee is called "joe"
  20. ^ a b Witzel, M.K. (2006). The American Diner. MBI classics. MBI Publishing Company LLC. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-7603-2434-9. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Leykam, Garrison (June 1, 2017). "Diner Lingo: How to Talk Like a Short Order Cook". Connecticut Magazine. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  22. ^ Soniak, Matt (September 20, 2012). "Understanding Diner Lingo: 55 Phrases To Get You Started". Mentalfloss.com.

Further reading[edit]