1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dumb Waiter

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DUMB WAITER,[1] a small oblong or circular table to hold reserve plates, knives and forks, and other necessaries for a meal. This piece of furniture originated in England towards the end of the 18th century, and some exceedingly elegant examples were designed by Sheraton and his school. They were usually circular, with three diminishing tiers, sometimes surrounded by a continuous or interrupted pierced gallery in wood or brass. The smaller varieties are now much used in England for the display of small silver objects in drawing-rooms.

  1. The term “dumb,” strictly meaning mute or destitute of speech (see Deaf and Dumb), is applied in this and other analogous cases (e.g. dumb-bell, dumb-barge) as connoting the absence of some normal capacity in the term with which it is associated.