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See also: Kitchen


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A modern kitchen.

Alternative forms




From Middle English kychyn, kytchen, kichene, küchen, from Old English cyċen, cyċene, from Proto-West Germanic *kukinā, a borrowing from Late Latin cocīna, from earlier coquīna (kitchen; cuisine), from coquō (to cook), from Proto-Indo-European *pekʷ- (to cook, become ripe).

In other languages, the cognate term often refers both to the room and the type of cooking. In English, the distinction is generally made via the etymological twins kitchen (room) (Latin via Germanic) and cuisine (type of cooking) (Latin via French).





kitchen (plural kitchens)

  1. A room or area for preparing food.
    We cook in the kitchen.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Foreword”, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      Everything a living animal could do to destroy and to desecrate bed and walls had been done. []   A canister of flour from the kitchen had been thrown at the looking-glass and lay like trampled snow over the remains of a decent blue suit with the lining ripped out which lay on top of the ruin of a plastic wardrobe.
    • 1980, Jona Lewie, Keef Trouble (lyrics and music), “You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties”, performed by Jona Lewie:
      I always leave the stuff piled up, piled up in the sink / But you will always find him in the kitchen at parties
  2. (by extension) Cuisine; style of cooking.
    • 2011, Jacques Pépin, Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, →ISBN:
      I had been trained with the rigidity and discipline of the French kitchen, and now I was embracing American informality.
    • 2011, Daniel Orr, Paradise Kitchen: Caribbean Cooking with Chef Daniel Orr, →ISBN, page 221:
      My palate passionately lies in the savory kitchen with its salty fats and infernal flavors of chilies and spices.
    • 2015, Yael Raviv, Falafel Nation: Cuisine and the Making of National Identity in Israel, →ISBN:
      Kline wrote that, according to various recent surveys, the young Israeli-born generation generally preferred a Mediterranean diet and dishes from the “Oriental” kitchen.
    • 2015, Mimi Sheraton, 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List, →ISBN, page 651:
      Named for the La Merced monastery, which was built in 1594 and on whose grounds the market is now located, it is just east of Mexico City's famed Zócalo plaza and is a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience the many delectable specialties of the Mexican kitchen.
  3. (chiefly African-American Vernacular) The nape of a person's hairline, often referring to its uncombed or "nappy" look.
  4. (music) The percussion section of an orchestra.
    • 1981, Norman Del Mar, Anatomy of the Orchestra:
      For obvious reasons the percussion is normally arranged along the back of the platform, whether centrally or to one side, and sometimes also in two tiers, the heavy, noisier instruments behind, and the pitched, agile instruments such as vibraphone, marimba, etc. in front. An outstanding exception, however, exists in Roberto Gerhard's Epithalamion where the composer expressly desired that the all-important kitchen department be spread out in front of the strings and hence nearest the audience.
  5. (dated) A utensil for roasting meat.
    • 1897, The Warm Springs Receipt-book, page 70:
      There are two modes of roasting: One is to use a tin kitchen before an open fire, and the other, and more common way, is to use a hot oven.
  6. (attributive) A domesticated or uneducated form of a language.
  7. (slang) A public gaming room in a casino.
    • 1925, William Rutherford Hayes Trowbridge, In the sun with a passport, page 31:
      Having done what was required to gain admittance to the "kitchen," as the public rooms are termed, as well as to the more exclusive "Salle Privée" []
    • 1953, Ian Fleming, Casino Royale:
      But on this June evening when Bond walked through the 'kitchen' into the salle privée, it was with a sensation of confidence and cheerful anticipation that he changed a million francs into plaques of fifty mille and took a seat []
  8. (obsolete) Anything eaten as a relish with bread, potatoes, etc.; a condiment.
  9. The region of a billiard table between the head rail and the head string.

Usage notes

  • (area for preparing food): A kitchen fruit, kitchen apple, or the like, or one good for the kitchen, is one suitable for use in prepared foods.

Derived terms








kitchen (third-person singular simple present kitchens, present participle kitchening, simple past and past participle kitchened)

  1. To do kitchen work; to prepare food.
    • 1842, Caroline Matilda Kirkland, Forest Life - Volume 2, page 52:
      A dress scarcely suited to woodland kitchening was defended by an apron borrowed from the maid.
    • 1899, Egerton Castle -, The Light of Scarthey: A Romance, page 10:
      "...May I ? " added the speaker, and forthwith took his answer from his master's smile ; "may I respectfully see what the old one has kitchened for you when I was not there ? "
    • 1920, Suffragist - Volumes 8-9, page 239:
      Instinctively they moved toward community canning, community baking, community kitchening on the grand scale to release energy for other war exigencies.
    • 1979, Barbara Ninde Byfield, A parcel of their fortunes, →ISBN, page 21:
      From somewhere through the series of connecting rooms she smelled food, the stabbing odor of onions cooking, a distantly familiar spice, heard the clatter of women kitchening.
  2. To embellish a basic food; to season, add condiments, etc.
    • 1817, Mrs. Edgworth, Tales of Real Life, Or, Scenes in Ireland:
      I have found it so, for whenever I saw the meal and potatoes running low, I spared them, and kitchened them all I could, and never was run out of them till the new came in.
    • 1851, John Mackay Wilson, Tales of the Borders and of Scotland:
      I "kitchened" my loaf, as they say in Scotland, with a pennyworth of butter, and occasionally with lettuce or a few radishes in their season ; and the beverage with which I regaled myself, after my meals, was a glass of water from the nearest pump.
    • 1893, Malcolm Ferguson, Fishing Incidents and Adventures:
      The green hill slopes are dotted over with sheep and lambs nibbling away at their morning meal, kitchened with blabs of sparkling dew, and higher up the mountain side we hear the " cootie moorcock's coothy craw."
    • 1907, Thomas Finlayson Henderson, Francis Watt, Scotland of to-day, page 358:
      This was seasoned with salt and sometimes kitchened with butter.
  3. (by extension) To embellish; to dress up.
    • 1830, The Imperial Magazine:
      His Maker has not so endowed him as to lay him under the necessity of kitchening, so to speak, a slender share of talent, and, by rigid economy, make it go as far as possible.
    • 2003, Patrick Kavanagh, Antoinette Quinn, A Poet's Country: Selected Prose, →ISBN, page 211:
      But as in his novels and other work there is a 'kitchening' of the material, a tentativeness.