1718, "cupboard, sideboard, etc., to hold china plates, etc.," from French bufet "bench, stool, sideboard" (12c.), which is of uncertain origin. Sense in English extended to "refreshment bar, place set aside for refreshments in public places" (1792), then, via buffet-table, buffet-car (1887), buffet-lunch, etc., by 1951 to "meal served from a buffet." The French word was borrowed in Middle English in the sense "low stool" (early 15c.) but became obsolete.
c. 1200, "a blow struck with a fist or blunt weapon," from Old French bufet "a slap, a punch," diminutive of bufe "a blow, slap, punch; puff of wind," figuratively "cunning trick," probably echoic of the sound of something soft being hit.
c. 1200, "to strike with the fist or hand; cuff, box, slap;" from Old French bufeter "to strike, slap, punch," from bufet "a slap, a punch" (see buffet (n.2)). Related: Buffeted; buffeting.
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