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tiffin, n.

Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈtɪfɪn/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈtɪfᵻn/
Forms:  Also 1800s tiffing.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Etymology: Appears to have originated in the English colloquial or slang tiffing  , verbal noun < tiff v.2   to take a little drink or sip (compare quot. 1785), which has been specialized in Anglo-Indian use.
1785   F. Grose Classical Dict. Vulgar Tongue   Tiffing, eating, or drinking out of meal time.
1867   H. Wedgwood Dict. Eng. Etymol.   Tiffin, now naturalised among Anglo-Indians in the sense of luncheon, is the North country tiffing (properly sipping).

  In India and neighbouring eastern countries, A light midday meal; luncheon.

1800   W. Ward Jrnl. 22 Dec. in G. Smith Life W. Carey (1885) vi. 137   Krishna came to eat tiffin (what in England is called luncheon) with us.
1803   M. Elphinstone in T. E. Colebrooke Life M. Elphinstone (1884) I. v. 116   We were interrupted by a summons to tiff. at Floyer's. After tiffin Close said he should be glad to go.
1810   T. Williamson E. India Vade-mecum I. 352   The [Mahommedan] ladies, like ours, indulge in tiffings (slight repasts).
1818   M. M. Sherwood Stories Church Catech. (ed. 4) xvi. 102   She gave them a good tiffing about one o'clock.
1831   E. J. Trelawny Adventures Younger Son II. 115   When the gong sounds one, you will find tiffin in the hall.
1896   ‘H. S. Merriman’ Flotsam xx   I'll call for you after tiffin.
1906   Peking & Tientsin Times 9 May 1/2   Those wishing to have tiffins at the forthcoming spring meeting will please apply at the secretary's office. Price $2.00 per tiffin.

1800—1906(Hide quotations)



 C1. attributive, as tiffin-bell, tiffin-table, tiffin-time.

1814   M. M. Sherwood Hist. Little Henry & his Bearer 62   The tiffin-time was very stupid to the little boy.
1852   Life in Bombay 34   The preparation of the tiffin table.
1890   W. C. Russell My Shipmate Louise vi   The tiffin-bell rang.

1814—1890(Hide quotations)


  tiffin-carrier   n. a tiered container for transporting meals.

1960   R. P. Jhabvala Householder i. 13   He always brought his breakfast with him in a tin tiffin-carrier.

1960—1960(Hide quotations)




  ˈtiffin   v.  (a) intransitive to take tiffin, to lunch; cf. tiff v.4;  (b) transitive to provide with tiffin.

1866   M. E. Braddon Lady's Mile xi   I'd tiffin them if they were my visitors.
1880   P. Gillmore On Duty 51   Here I tiffined.
1903   R. Gower Rec. & Reminisc. 388   We tiffined at a tea-house in the village.

1866—1903(Hide quotations)


This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1912; most recently modified version published online September 2022).

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