#138: How To Tip Your Waiter And Get Better Service In English

Eating at restaurants in English can be tricky, and raise a lot of questions for all non-native speakers.

Am I being rude with the waiter? Should I leave a tip? What’s the right way to order?

In this episode of the podcast you are going to learn all aspects of eating out at restaurants for politeness, booking a table, and free refills.


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Words You’ll Learn:

  • a tip – some extra money given to compliment the service
  • Flap jacks – a pancake
  • Under your belt – an achievement to your name
  • Have something down – have some thing mastered
  • Pipe down – a slightly rude way to tell someone to be quiet
  • When in Rome – an expression to suggest you follow local customs when you’re in a foreign place
  • Mace –  a medieval weapon
  • Fax machine – a machine that sends scanned documents through telecommunication networks
  • Morse code – coded letters sent through sound or light signals
  • Make a reservation – to book a table at a restaurant
  • A party of 4 – a way of naming the table based on guests
  • Booster seat – a raised seat for babies
  • No show – to make a reservation but not go there
  • Greeter – the person at the door who shows you to your table
  • Bus boy – waiter that clears tables
  • Swanky – luxurious and expensive
  • Joint – an informal way to reference a restaurant
  • Broad – a old way of calling a women
  • Host/hostess – the man or woman that oversees all the guests and waiters
  • Be tipped out – to share all of the tips from the night with all the staff
  • Free refills – free drinks for the whole night
  • Rapport – a close and harmonious relationship with friends and colleagues
  • Holdovers – a fancy way of saying entrees, a smaller serving of food before the main course
  • subservient – to obey someone unquestionably  
  • Soup or salad? – waiters will always ask this for the entree
  • Dressing – sauce used to flavor salad
  • Side dish – a smaller portion of food served with the main course

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  • Knifesedge Tefl says:

    Hey! Found you guys through Jack at TESLO. Listened to this one first and as both a former restaurant manager and now an English Tutor, found it fantastic!
    One thing I would mention, from a Brit’s point of view, “Can I get” and “I want” are seen as very rude (and leads to a certain impression of Americans in the restaurant industry!)

    We do consider the word toilet acceptable, maybe because we do have more inappropriate words, like bog or loo. And we don’t rest in the rest room or bath in the bathroom 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing more of the podcasts!

    • Hey there Knifesedge, great to hear from you. I’m glad you found it useful. That’s interesting about British restaurant culture. That, and the whole notion of formality vs informality in American vs British culture and language, would be an interesting topic to cover at some point. Thanks again for sharing!