Definition of cafe in English:


(also café)

Pronunciation /ˈkafeɪ//ˈkafi/


  • 1A small restaurant selling light meals and drinks.

    • ‘He could not enter restaurants or cafés apart from third-class railway and steamer buffets.’
    • ‘This corner of trendy Broughton Street has seen a number of restaurants, bistros and cafes come and go in relatively quick succession, but the most recent arrival looks like being a keeper.’
    • ‘They'll be showing up everywhere in cafes, tearooms, restaurants.’
    • ‘Away from boulevards and cafes, away from lights and crowds, he lived among the narrow, twisting alleys behind the quartier portugais.’
    • ‘We spend the afternoon wandering around the area in the blistering heat, popping into the various cafes to drink the best coffee in the world.’
    • ‘Even though it was still some time till midday, diners were greedily eating in the restaurants and cafés.’
    • ‘However, be prepared to step up a gear around the huge variety of bars, restaurants and cafes serving delicious meals at less than a fiver-a-head on the Avineda del Generalrismo.’
    • ‘I want to drink coffee in cafes and laugh with my friends.’
    • ‘An hour later the three were chatting over hot chocolate in the small cafe that served hot drinks and food to skaters.’
    • ‘There are well-lit shopping malls, ice cream parlours, restaurants, eateries, cafes, so on and so forth.’
    • ‘Small restaurants, cafes selling coffee and tea, as well as stalls selling sandwiches and fruit juice are in abundance, spread all over the city.’
    • ‘The idea is that the actual bylaw stays in place but the police will exercise greater discretion to allow drinking in closed off areas outside cafes and restaurants.’
    • ‘To help maintain your dancing energy, a café will serve inexpensive light meals in the downstairs lounge throughout the evening.’
    • ‘These events are often held at restaurants, cafes and coffee houses.’
    • ‘Urban dwellers may eat a light meal at a café or restaurant in the evening.’
    • ‘Young men and women walk or sit together in the parks, while older men gather in cafes to drink tea and play backgammon.’
    • ‘We could go into cafes and restaurants and enjoy a decent meal without having to exceed a tenner.’
    • ‘He said that the research also revealed that people were becoming increasingly concerned about hygiene practices in takeaways, restaurants and cafes.’
    • ‘There are supermarkets to buy food, takeaways, cafes and licensed restaurants.’
    • ‘They are sold in supermarkets, cafés and restaurants.’
    snack bar, cafeteria, buffet
    coffee bar, coffee shop, tea room, tea shop
    restaurant, bistro, brasserie, wine bar, cafe bar, cybercafe
    milk bar
    greasy spoon, eatery, noshery
    pull-up, pull-in
    View synonyms
  • 2North American A bar or nightclub.

    • ‘At no more that half an hour's drive or train journey away, we would go there to shop, have a bite of lunch, and stop off at a cafe for a drink.’
    • ‘I hung out in neighborhoods, and went to cafes at night.’
    • ‘Many have taken to paying people to go to bars, cafes and clubs to talk up the relative merits of a product to complete strangers in the guise of casual conversation.’
    • ‘We'd go to nightclubs and cafés, hear jazz bands play or go to open-air symphonies.’
    • ‘The docks area of Leith buzzes with a large selection of pubs, cafes and clubs.’
    • ‘The clashes are mostly triggered over protection rackets targeting nightclubs, bars and karaoke cafes operated by soldiers and policemen.’
    • ‘For example, they have a club that hosts gay discos once a week and a cafe / bar which is gay friendly and is mainly used by lesbians.’
    • ‘Everyone in the cafe had stopped drinking and was looking over at us.’
    • ‘I'd felt content, unburdened in the café, drinking and laughing and free of gossip for a spell.’
    • ‘After we had taken a picture of every square inch of the landscape we headed back inside for a drink in the cafe.’
    • ‘Like it or not, bars, pubs and cafés are our public squares, where people meet to participate in the social life of the city.’
    • ‘The album as a whole sets you in the back of a 70's jazz café, where you can witness budding young musicians showcasing their talents.’
    • ‘Some time later (the next night, it seems) she stumbles drunk into a cafe where he happens to be.’
    • ‘People were filling the cafes and bars that occupied the ground floors as we went to bed around 1PM.’
    • ‘Jake suggested the four go to a café for drinks, and all gladly accepted.’
  • 3South African A shop selling sweets, cigarettes, newspapers, etc. and staying open after normal hours.

    • ‘Corner cafes have since been replaced by petrol station 'quick-shops', but these will still be referred to as the corner cafe.’


Early 19th century: from French café coffee or coffee house.