Etymology
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menu (n.)

1837, "detailed list of dishes to be served at a banquet or meal," from French menu de repas "list of what is served at a meal," from French menu (adj.) "small, detailed" (11c.), from Latin minutus "small," literally "made smaller," past participle of minuere "to diminish," from root of minus "to diminish" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small"). Computer sense of "list of options displayed on a screen" is by 1967, from the expanded sense of "any detailed list," which is attested by 1889.

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miniver (n.)

a type of fur once commonly used for lining and trimming in garments, mid-13c., from Old French menu vair "minor fur;" see menu + vair. The exact description of the thing and meaning of the term is now unclear; according to older French sources, it came from some kind of squirrel.

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*mei- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "small."

It forms all or part of: administer; administration; comminute; diminish; meiosis; Menshevik; menu; metier; mince; minestrone; minim; minimum; minister; ministration; ministry; minor; minuend; minuet; minus; minuscule; minute; minutia; Miocene; mis- (2); mite (n.2) "little bit;" mystery (n.2) "handicraft, trade, art;" nimiety.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines;" Greek meion "less, smaller;" Latin minus, minor "smaller," minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen;" Old English minsian "to diminish;" Russian men'she "less."

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minnow (n.)

small freshwater fish, early 15c., meneu, probably related to Old English myne, earlier *mynwe, a name for some kind of fish, from Proto-Germanic *muniwon (source also of Middle Low German möne, Dutch meun, Old High German muniwa, German Münne), a word of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *men- "small." Perhaps influenced in Middle English by French menu "small." In the U.S., applied to various fishes of small size.

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minuet (n.)

"slow, graceful dance in triple measure," 1670s, from French menuet, from Old French menuet (adj.) "small, fine, delicate, narrow," from menu "small," from Latin minutus "small, minute" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small"). So called from the short steps taken in the dance. The spelling was influenced in English by Italian minuetto. As "music for a minuet," by 1680s. Perhaps invented in mid-17c. France, the minuet was, through the 18c., the most popular of the more stately dances.

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spam (n.)
proprietary name registered by Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in U.S., 1937; probably a conflation of spiced ham. Soon extended to other kinds of canned meat.

In the sense of "internet junk mail" it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when Usenet administrator Richard Depew inadvertently posted the same message 200 times to a discussion group. The term had been used in online text games, and ultimately it is from a 1970 sketch on the British TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" wherein a reading of a restaurant's menu devolves into endless repetitions of "spam."
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pizza (n.)

"a savoury dish of Italian origin, consisting of a base of dough, spread with a selection of such ingredients as olives, tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, etc., and baked in a very hot oven" [OED], 1931, from Italian pizza, originally "cake, tart, pie," a name of uncertain origin. The 1907 "Vocabolario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana" reports it is said to be from dialectal pinza "clamp" (from Latin pinsere "to pound, stamp"). Klein suggests a connection with Medieval Greek pitta "cake, pie" (see pita). Watkins says it is (perhaps via Langobardic) from a Germanic source akin to Old High German bizzo, pizzo "bite, morsel," from Proto-Germanic *biton- (see bit (n.1)). Ayto ["Diner's Dictionary"] seems inclined toward this explanation, too.

The notion of taking a flat piece of bread dough and baking it with a savoury topping is a widespread one and of long standing — the Armenians claim to have invented it, and certainly it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans — but it is Italy, and particularly Naples, that has given its version of the dish to the world. ... Since then it has undergone a series of metamorphoses in base, topping, and general character that would make it hard for Neapolitans to recognize as their own, but which have transformed it into a key item on the international fast-food menu. [Ayto]
A pizza is manufactured, as far as I can ascertain, by garnishing a slab of reinforced asphalt paving with mucilage, whale-blubber and the skeletons of small fishes, baking same to the consistency of a rubber heel, and serving piping-hot with a dressing of molten lava. ["Simon Stylites," in The Bergen Evening Record, May 15, 1931]
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cover (n.)
Origin and meaning of cover

mid-14c., "something laid, placed or spread (on something else),"  from cover (v.). Sense of "something which veils or screens from sight" is from c. 1400. From c. 1500 as "shelter" of any kind, later especially in hunting, "shrubbery, brush, or thickets which conceal game" (1719).

Meaning "binding or wrapper of a book" is from 1590s; that of "envelope or wrapper for a letter" is by 1748. Meaning "recording of a song already recorded by another" is by 1970, short for cover version (1966). Cover-band "band that plays only cover songs" is by 1981. Cover girl is U.S. slang from 1915, shortening of magazine-cover girl (1899).

Cover-charge is attested by 1913. The immediate sense of cover in it appears to be the old one of "plate, knives, forks, spoons, napkin, wine glasses, etc., used at the table by one person," from French couvert, literally "a cover," in the same sense; supposedly they were so called because they were originally brought together in a case.

According to contemporary publications, cover came to include table condiments and bread and butter, and c. 1910 some restaurants began to charge extra for these. ["... a smart New York restauranteur recently made a 'cover charge' of twenty-five cents for bread and butter and ice-water. Others followed." - Edward Hungerford, "The Personality of American Cities," 1913]

In this sense, cover also probably involves the banquet service use of cover for a charge which includes ("covers") everything provided with the food — menu card, flowers, music, etc.

In recent years hotels, particularly those featuring entertainment in their restaurants, have made a so-called cover charge which includes entertainment in addition to the table service. For instance, at some of the larger hotels in New York, where there is dancing, or cabaret, or high-priced soloists, or entertainment of costly nature provided, there is a cover charge, sometimes as high as $1 the seat. [Hotel Monthly, December 1917]
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