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Elevenses /ɪˈlɛvənzɪz/ is a short break taken at around 11:00 am to consume a drink or snack. The names and details vary among countries.

Regional variations[edit]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

In Australia and New Zealand, elevenses is known as "morning tea" and occurs at approximately 10:30 am. 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, sometimes replacing 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 hot chocolate, coffee or tea with arepa, bread, or crackers, usually taken around 5:00 pm. In the morning, the snack consist of the same type of food but it is called medias nueves. It is served generally between 9:00 and 11:00 am.


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 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]


In Poland the drugie śniadanie (lit. "second breakfast") is eaten in the midmorning. Rather than a heavy chunk of sausage or other meat, though, like the German second breakfast, Poles prefer a lighter, dessert-like pastry or sweet with a hot drink, more similar to the American "coffee break".[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 desayuno (in Latin American Spanish, this means breakfast). 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 Kingdom[edit]

Elevenses, eaten at 11:00 as the name suggests, typically consists of tea or coffee, often with a few biscuits. Sometimes, toast or chocolate bars are eaten instead.[9]

United States[edit]

During the first decades of the 19th century, elevenses consisted of drinking whiskey.[10] In modern times, hourly workers take a break known as a coffee break, typically around 10:00 am. Oftentimes, this is done in a break room, and small snacks may be eaten as well.

It is common for young school children to have a short snack break called morning snack. This is offered in the morning before lunch, usually between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. This snack is common in schools for children under the age of six. Older children are not offered snacks during school hours; rather, they are expected to eat only their midday meal, called lunch, during school.

A small population of Americans do take British elevenses.

In popular culture[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,[11] 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), a party is implied to be particularly lavish in that food was served "continuously from elevenses until six-thirty".[12]

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. Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  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. ^ Preparing a Polish meal last visited 2020-04-17
  9. ^ Harper, Timothy (1997). Passport United Kingdom: Your Pocket Guide to British Business, Customs and Etiquette. World Trade Press. ISBN 1-885073-28-3.
  10. ^ Pollan, Michael (12 October 2003). "The (agri)cultural contradictions of obesity". The New York Times Magazine. The way we live now.
  11. ^ Bond, Michael (1997). Paddington abroad. London: Collins. p. 14. ISBN 0007402570.
  12. ^ 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]