Eating Out

When Did Waiter Become "Server" Anyway?

In another thread someone, apparently a restaurant waiter, begins a comment with "As a server, I like to...."

When did this nomenclature take over? It still sounds so odd to me. It also makes little sense.

I've heard it posited that "server" is better because it's gender neutral, but the word "waiter" (discarding "waitress") is hardly a male word, any more than the word "actor" (discarding "actress") is. Women and men can both equally be called actors or waiters as far as I can see, and certainly to no less an extent than the degree to which they can both be called "servers". To spell it out, these are people who "wait", "act", or "serve" regardless of their body parts.

If anything, "waiter" connotes a much higher class of service than "server". A "server" implies someone who merely delivers things. (This is why the word works so well in the computer context.) A "waiter" meanwhile, has as his or her purpose the satisfaction of the the client, including taking the food order and attending to other needs arising during the meal.

It seems to me the acting profession is gradually phasing out the word "actress" in favor of the gender neutral "actor" (ditto for comedian and comic versus the almost archaic "comedienne"), and I would think a similar movement towards "waiter" and away from the rather cold "server" would be appropriate.

Anybody with me?


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