- A list of the dishes to be served or available for a meal.
- The dishes served or available at a meal.
- A list of available options, especially as displayed on a screen.
[French, small, minute, menu, from Old French menut, small, from Latin minÅ«tus, past participle of minuere, to diminish.]
WORD HISTORY An enormous menu might be considered an oxymoron if one were to restrict the word etymologically. Menu can be traced back to the Latin word minÅ«tus, meaning â€œsmall in size, amount, or degreeâ€ and also â€œpossessing or involving minute knowledge.â€ Latin minÅ«tus became Old French menut and Modern French menu, â€œsmall, fine, trifling, minute.â€ The French adjective came to be used as a noun with the sense of â€œdetail, details collectively,â€ and â€œdetailed list.â€ As such, it was used in the phrase menu de repas, â€œlist of items of a meal,â€ which was shortened to menu. This word was borrowed into English, being first recorded in 1837. The French word had been borrowed before, perhaps only briefly, as a shortening of the French phrase menu peuple, â€œthe common people.â€ This usage, however, is recorded in only one text, in 1658.