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"You may board"
Use of "board" to mean join the buffet line
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2013/12/31
7:13pm
Rhododendron
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I was at a wedding reception in Virginia where a meal was being served as a buffet. The guests were seated at tables. A waitperson came to our table, gestured at the buffet line, and told us, “You may board now.” I’m familiar with “board” in the sense of room and board, and boarding (getting meals) at a dormitory or boarding house, but I’ve never heard it in the sense of joining a line for food or serving one’s self at a buffet. My dictionary doesn’t seem to have this sense. (All the food-related senses of board as a verb concern paying for meals with money or service.) Is this a regionalism? Or was the waitperson just stretching the term to include a new meaning?

2013/12/31
8:48pm
deaconB
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Does your dictionary mention the use of “side board” as a synonym for “buffet” a a piece of furniture?

The older I get, the more I appreciate the impossibility of any dictionary being complete.  that’s not a common usage, but it certainly seems more appropriate to the occasion than telling folks to belly up and chow down.

2014/01/02
9:00am
Glenn
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That use is new to me. It squints between the nuance of food, with the idea of getting “on board” in line. Perhaps to get on board the chuck wagon? I would take it as catering jargon. Anybody out there with a catering background to confirm or deny?

2014/01/03
6:02am
Rhododendron
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Deaconb, thanks for your comment. Yes, my dictionary does have “sideboard,” and I know that word.

Glenn, I like the way you used “squints.” It’s creative, and much more metaphorical than the way the waitperson used “board.” Still, both are examples of stretching a word to cover a new use without making it too hard to figure out the intended meaning.

2014/01/03
6:49pm
faresomeness
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Along with the more common meanings, our 1930 Webster’s  shows:

       “board, v.t. [F. aborder…] to approach ; accost ; or pay addresses to.   obs. 

        I will board her, though she chide as loud
        As thunder when the clouds in autumn crack. Shak.
 
So it’s an obsolete usage, and suggests an approach to a person, but I wonder, since this was in Virginia, if some old regionalism surfaced here?
 
2014/01/03
9:30pm
larrfirr
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Sounds to me this was taken from the sense of board a ship, or train etc.  I wonder if the waiter was talking a bit tongue in cheek, or perhaps using jargon that only caterers use.

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