One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A cafeteria in which food and drink were obtained from vending machines.
- ‘Fueled by the nickels of new legions of white collar workers and immigrants who could not speak English and therefore could not order at a restaurant, the automat prospered in the early 1900s and handily survived the Depression.’
- ‘A lone female figure sits alone drinking in an automat, an area supplied with vending machines that is pure Americana.’
- ‘By the 1920s, some restaurants and automats were heavily populated with gay men, especially late at night, and a few places openly catered to them.’
- ‘When the detective in The Erasers eats lunch, it is in an automat where food is reduced to ‘cubes’ and ‘replicas.’’
- ‘When we got back from lunch, I realised I'd left mine back in the automat.’
Late 17th century (denoting an automaton): from German, from French automate, from Latin automaton (see automaton). The current sense dates from the early 20th century.
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