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Elevenses ( /ɪˈlɛvənzɪz/) is a short break taken at around 11:00 a.m. to consume a drink or snack. The name and details vary between countries.

Regional variations[edit]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

In Australia and New Zealand, elevenses is known as "morning tea", or smoko, and occurs at exactly 10:30. Many workplaces organize morning teas for staff to welcome new employees, for special occasions such as a birthday, or simply as a regular event. Food will sometimes be provided by the business, but often employees will be expected to bring food to share.[1][2]


In Belgian Dutch, this kind of snack is called a tienuurtje, literally a "little (one of) 10 o'clock".[3] A tienuurtje typically consists of one or more cookies or some piece of fruit and may be accompanied by fruit juice or chocolate milk. Many parents give their children a tienuurtje to eat during the mid-morning school break. A similar kind of snack for the afternoon break is called a vieruurtje, literally "little (one of) 4 o'clock".


In many Spanish-speaking cultures, elevenses is observed under the name la once (in Spanish, once means 'eleven'). However, in Chile it has shifted to the afternoon replacing sometimes the traditional dinner.[4]

In the 2010–2011 National Food Consumption Survey, around 80% of the Chileans reported having once. This is due to once sometimes replacing the traditional dinner in Chile, which only 30% of the population reported having. Here traditional dinner means a proper meal with vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. La once resembles a light version of British High Tea.[5]

An alternative widespread, but unfounded, popular etymology for the word in Chile is that priests (in other versions, workers or women) used the phrase tomar las once (Spanish: "drink the eleven") in reference to the eleven letters of the word Aguardiente to conceal the fact that they were drinking during the day.[5]


In Colombia, it is common to have a snack named onces. It consists mainly of coffee or tea with crackers, usually taken around 5 o'clock in the afternoon.


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").[6][7]

United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland[edit]

Elevenses typically consists of tea or coffee, often with a selection of biscuits.[8]


In the Basque Country it is common to have a mid-morning snack consisting of high-protein food like eggs, bacon, or cured meats on bread, called hamarretako (literally "10 o'clock snack") or hamaiketako ("11 o'clock snack"). In Spain there is a break between the time range of 9:00 and 11:00 am, called almuerzo (depending on the time you have had breakfast and anticipate eating). In jobs of little physical effort, it can be a light lunch of a coffee, juice, infusion with some sweet or snack of almonds, nuts, or cookies. In jobs of great physical effort is usually a sandwich or a fried egg with ham and cheese.

United States[edit]

During the first decades of the 19th century, elevenses consisted of drinking whiskey.[9]

It is common for school children to have a short snack break in the morning before lunch.

Hourly employees usually have a coffee break in the morning at 10 am and another similar break around 2 pm.


In Israel it is called ארוחת עשר (arukhat eser, Hebrew for "10 o'clock meal"), mostly eaten at schools and kindergartens in the form of homemade sandwiches, often accompanied with a fruit or other snack, after the second hour of the school day and before the so-called "small break". It also occurs in major unionized workplaces, such as factories and customer services reception centres, where workers are handed tea.


Elevenses in Hungarian is called Tíz-órai which translates to "of the 10 o'clock", referring to "the meal of the 10 o'clock". This is a break between breakfast and lunch, when it is time for a light meal or snack. In schools the early lunch break is called a Tíz-órai break. Parallel to the word Elevenses, Tíz-órai is often called Tenses "Tenzeez" by Hungarian-Americans and Hungarian-Britons.

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,[10] for which Paddington would buy buns and Mr Gruber would make cocoa (hot chocolate).

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.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The cheats' guide to morning teas". Stuff.co.nz.
  2. ^ "Like a boss: 10 terrific ideas for your office morning tea". Food Daily.
  3. ^ "Het Vlaams woordenboek: tienuurtje". Het Vlaams woordenboek.
  4. ^ Collier, Simon (2004). A History of Chile, 1808-2002. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53484-4.
  5. ^ a b Fredes, Cristóbal (November 15, 2014). "El significado de la once" (SHTML). www.latercera.com. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Thijs, J. G. A. (1984). Taal ter sprake (in Dutch). Nijgh & Van Ditmar. p. 40. ISBN 9789023655930. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  7. ^ ter Horst-Hoekstra, A. C. (1953). "'t Pistoal: Een Westfriese historie (1870-1878)". De Speelwagen (in Dutch). 8 (10): 303–12.
  8. ^ Harper, Timothy (1997). Passport United Kingdom: Your Pocket Guide to British Business, Customs and Etiquette. World Trade Press. ISBN 1-885073-28-3.
  9. ^ Pollan, Michael (October 12, 2003). "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: 10-12-03; The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions Of Obesity". The New York Times Magazine.
  10. ^ Bond, Michael (1997). Paddington abroad. London: Collins. p. 14. ISBN 0007402570.
  11. ^ 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]