It’s National Waitstaff Day, and whether or not you’re back to dining out, it’s a good time to figure out a little of where restaurants come from. (It’s complicated.) Plus: the website ThisWordDoesNotExist creates words that sound real but aren’t.

When Did People Start Eating In Restaurants? (History.com)

ThisWordDoesNotExist.com is rewriting the dictionary with the help of AI (The Verge)

There are few words that compare with the word “backer.” Join us today on Patreon.

It’s National Waitstaff Day, and whether or not you’re back to dining out yet, restaurants are certainly on a lot of people’s minds presently.

How much do we know about where the idea of a restaurant came from? A lot, but that doesn’t mean that we know exactly where it all started.

The word “restaurant” itself comes from France; it’s derived from a Latin word that means “to renew.”

The story goes that a soup-maker defied the very strict and powerful opened up a sit-down establishment where customers could come and restore themselves with his delicious and nutritious recipes.

The soups were real, and the word is real; the soup-maker appears to have been a legend.

Which is probably fine, because there’s evidence that the basic concept of a restaurant dates back hundreds of years earlier anyway.

China had quasi-restaurants as far back as the 12th century. They even had singing waiters!

Japan had them not long after, and even France had something close to a restaurant in the 1500s, well before the soup-maker supposedly showed up.

So why does 18th Century France get most of the credit?

Because they popularized the way food is served at restaurants today.

Before the restaurant movement came along, you would show up at a place at a designated time and they chose what meal everyone ate. There was no menu.

There wasn’t much more choice if you went to a tavern or ate at a hotel where you were staying.

Restaurants, like cafes, let you choose when to show up and what to have.

Of course, before that people wouldn’t spend all that time reading every bit of the menu and agonizing over what to order, so there’s also that.

And now that you know where the word “restaurant” comes from, do you know the origin of the word “scraggard”?

There’s a story behind the origin of every word, except for the words on the website ThisWordDoesNotExist dot com.

Because that site is using artificial intelligence to generate real-sounding but non-existent words.

So for the record, “thinnier,” “colectivizer” and “democritualize” are all AI words, not actual ones.

At least not yet.