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Aug 4, 2008 08:48 AM

Is "waitron" intended to be demeaning?

I've only recently heard it as a non-gender-specific term for waiter or waitress - around here we use the term "server". I'm not sure if it's intended that way but to me it sounds like a robot (not sure why, it just does), somewhat demeaning. However, I've seen it used it contexts where it doesn't seem to be intended that way.

Is it just me? I think "server" is fine as a gender-neutral term, as is "waiter" (I've noticed that the media nowadays use "actor" to mean both male and female).

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  1. jfood prefers server to waitron. when jfood sees waitron he does feel a negative connotation, even if not intended by the poster.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      I think it sounds horribly insulting. It is a person serving you not some mindless, souless robot. What would be the positive image that waitron would describe? I heard a chef use the term once in front of a server friend of mine....was not pretty.

      1. re: jfood

        I've always considered that 'waitron' mirrors the concept of 'patron'. The former provides the service, the latter recieves the service. Is a restaurant 'patron' considered demeaning, then? Just askin', is all...

        1. re: silence9

          Not at all, this is why I love Chowhound.....I've never heard it described that way, it does change my perspective. The chef that I was talking to did mean it in a robot way, (he was confronted by my server friend and not knowing he was a server said he meant mindless robot...ouch) but maybe that was just my introduction to the I can see it another way.

      2. Noooo, hsk, seriously?

        Is it a combination of waiter-, waitress-, and automatron?

        How ridiculous.

        I agree on waiter, as with actor, but like server even better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dolores

          I thought so, too but because it's "automaton" I wasn't sure why I thought it sounded that way to me. I wasn't sure of the origin of the word, but I'm glad to see it sounds that way to others, too.

          When a chef says it I can see it might be in a context that's deliberately demeaning - eg "come on you waitrons take this food while it's still perfect", it was when I read it in normal contexts that I wondered if it was just me.

        2. Gio feels that the term waitron is just plain silly. We say server or after an introduction by a our "server for the evening," Nathan or Cindy..... or insert name.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            It's silly and pretentious. I assume it's meant to avoid an (actually nonexistent) dilemma between "waiter" and waitress." Instead you wind up calling a human being a neuter.

            Fooling around with Greek anbd Latin endings is a quick way to look dumb if you don't know what you're doing.

            1. re: bibi rose

              <Instead you wind up calling a human being a neuter.>

              Wouldn't that be a neutron?

              There are males and there are females; there are waiters and waitresses. Simple. (And there are waitrons.)

              1. re: mrbozo

                Neutron - funny. I wonder if some front of house "waitron" came up with patron out of being treated in a "patronizing" manner?

          2. I thought that "waitron" had come in and gone out of style very quickly about ten or fifteen years ago.


            1. I think it refers to waiters from chain restaurants who are trained to recite the same things and behave the same way, such as "Hi, my name is ..., I'll be your waiter today."

              Personally I prefer the term "Server Unit".

              3 Replies
              1. re: PeterL

                I'm a former server (among other positions) and we would use it tongue in cheek in reference to that exact sort of position. It is a challenge to give personal service in such a highly scripted environment. "I was waitroning at this place on the beach last year..." and every other server knows exactly what type place it is!
                I guess if the term was used out of context it could be construed differently. You wouldn't use it to describe a position filled by a professional at a place that allowed intelligent service.But a lot of places won't allow intelligence on the job...heard one chain restaurant manager explaining to an employee that that was what managers were for!

                1. re: meatn3

                  ditto meatn. It's not meant or regularly used as an insult where I'm from, but a tongue-in-cheek, usually self-deprecating reference.

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    That's exactly my understanding when the word has been used. It's always been used by the servers themselves to describe what they do. "I'm a waitron," they've said, and it has never meant anything derogatory. The servers themselves were having fun with the word.