From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: smörgåsbord


Alternative forms[edit]


A smorgasbord

Borrowed from Swedish smörgåsbord (buffet with many small dishes; smorgasbord), from smörgås (sandwich) + bord (table).[1] Smörgås is from Swedish smör (butter) + gås (goose), a reference to pieces of butter which float to the surface of milk when churned.



smorgasbord (plural smorgasbords)

  1. A Swedish-style buffet comprising a variety of cold sandwiches and other dishes; (by extension) any buffet with a wide selection of dishes.
    • 1876, [Justin] André, chapter V, in Overcome, Rouses Point, N.Y.: Lovell Printing & Publishing Co., →OCLC, page 81:
      In the middle of the saloon they observed a small table set out with little dishes, containing bread and butter, sardines, pickled herrings, cheese, large baskets filled with rye biscuit, dark and untempting to Mabel's English eye, and the never failing brandy. Gathered around the smorgasbord were all the Swedes talking and eating most earnestly (all standing).
    • 1946 March, “Swedish Modern Airlines”, in Boeing Magazine, volume XVI, number 3, Seattle, Wash.: Public Relations Division, Boeing Airplane Company, →OCLC, page 95, column 1:
      In carrying out the Swedish luxury theme, tasty Scandinavian food will be served from the Stratocruiser galley. The lower-deck cocktail bar will feature smorgasbord snacks and drinks.
    • [1965?], California Bureau of Food and Drug Inspections, Recommendations for Food Protection Devices: Cafeterias, Buffets, Chuck Wagons, Smorgasbords, [Berkeley, Calif.]: California State Department of Public Health, →OCLC, page 1:
      Cafeterias, buffets, chuck wagon service and smorgasbords are becoming increasingly popular food service methods.
    • 1984, “Chapter I—Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury—(Continued): (Parts 30 to 39)”, in Code of Federal Regulations: Internal Revenue: [Title] 26, Parts 30 to 39: Revised as of April 1, 1984: [], Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration; General Services Administration; U.S. Government Printing Office, →ISSN, →OCLC, part 31 (Employment Taxes and Collection of Income Tax at Source), § 31.6061-1, paragraph 18, page 256:
      Generally, operations are primarily self-service if food or beverages are ordered or selected by a customer by a customer at one location and carried by the customer from such location to the customer's seat. For example, cafeteria lines, buffets, and smorgasbords are primarily self-service.
    • 2010, Pete Helland, “Thanks to God for the Smorgasbord”, in John J. (Jeff) Pepper, editor, Daily Triumph, [United States]: Xulon Press, →ISBN, page 15:
      It is a smorgasbord. That means that after you pay a certain amount of money for your meal you can eat anything you want, together with as much as you want. I remember the first time my folks took me to a smorgasbord. I had been in places where they serve you family-style before but never in a smorgasbord.
    • 2011, Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince, Roger Norum, Alexia Travaglini, Frommer’s Scandinavia (Frommer’s), 24th edition, Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, →ISBN, page 17:
      The fame of the smörgåsbord (smorgasbord) is justly deserved. Using a vast array of dishes—everything from Baltic herring to smoked reindeer—the smorgasbord (never served in the evening) can be eaten either as hors d'oeuvres or as a meal in itself.
  2. (figuratively) An abundant and diverse collection of things.
    Synonyms: assortment, hodgepodge, medley, miscellany, Whitman's sampler; see also Thesaurus:hodgepodge
    • 1973, Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions, Random House, published 2010, →ISBN, page 256:
      “Every time you went into the library,” said the book, “the Creator of the Universe held His breath. With such a higgledy-piggledy cultural smorgasbord before you, what would you, with your free will, choose?”
    • 1991 September, “Measuring Education”, in Neil Tillman, editor, Census and You: Monthly News from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, volume 26, number 9, Bureau of the Census, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 10, column 1:
      If you have an appetite for education statistics, consider the above an appetizer for the smorgasbord you'll find in the Digest of Education Statistics 1990.
    • 2004, Nicholas Ayo, “Information Overload: Mid-December”, in Times of Grace: Spiritual Rhythms of the Year at the University of Notre Dame, Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, →ISBN, page 59:
      Here is the smorgasbord of life, and our unfocused eyes are even bigger than our stomachs.
    • 2005, Lorena Bathey, “Do You Have the Time”, in Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother, [s.l.]: Lorena B Books, published 2011, →ISBN:
      Watching my newly single friends, I observed different behaviors in regards to the new single sex. Some women surmised that they needed sex and plenty of it and any man was the right man was them. [...] It appeared to me that this sexual smorgasbord was a way for these women to feel something again. [...] On the other side of the voracious sexual smorgasbord, was the woman who had slapped on a chastity belt and threw away the key.
    • 2010, Charles Hanly, “Logic, Meaning and Truth in Psychoanalytic Research”, in Jorge Canestri, Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Mary Target, editors, Early Development and its Disturbances: Clinical, Conceptual, and Empirical Research on ADHD and Other Psychopathologies and Its Epistemological Reflections, London: Karnac Books, →ISBN, page 211:
      As such, and unlike philosophy which has toyed with this self-definition, it is not good enough for psychoanalysis to be a smorgasbord of alternative ways of interpreting human nature. The smorgasbord of available therapies is already heavily laden with alternative psychotherapies without psychoanalysis adding further varieties of its own.
    • 2010, Larry Doyle, “Back Seat Dating”, in Go, Mutants!: A Novel[1], 1st edition (Fiction), HarperCollinsPublishers, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 123:
      It was a bar by license, but in hiring practice it became an intergalactic smorgasbord of xenosexual delights, females of fancy species serving drinks and offering cultural exchange to human males seeking some strange.
    • 2023 October 2, Courtney Young, “Calling It Now: Throuples Are About to Put Love Triangles Out of Business”, in Cosmopolitan[2]:
      Mainstream culture is clearly fascinated by (and increasingly comfortable with) non-monogamy, and as a result, the Overton window of “provocative content” has shifted: []. Hollywood has followed suit, giving us a smorgasbord of sexy throuple representations to feast on across three buzzy new films.



  1. ^ smorgasbord, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1986; “smorgasbord”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ The Chambers Dictionary, 9th Ed., 2003
  3. ^ smorgasbord”, in Collins English Dictionary.
  4. ^ smorgasbord”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]