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Elevenses ( /ɪˈlɛvənzɪz/) is a short break taken at around 11 a.m. to consume a drink or snack of some sort. 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 can occur at any point between the start of the working day and lunchtime. Many workplaces organise 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 Euskadi it's 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 and 11, 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.


In Israel it's 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 schoolday 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]