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What would be a good Latin word for waiter or waitress in a restaurant? I would not call them servus; I find the word inappropriate when not referring to slaves. Servitor/servitrix would be more neutral, but also minister/ministra looks suitable. I also came across dapifer (from daps+ferre), and it became my favorite translation the moment I saw it despite being rare. Which word(s) would you suggest and why? Is there a canonical translation?

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In a smaller restaurant, caupo would be very appropriate, particularly if it's a family business. Another word which was certainly used in Antiquity was simply puer (see Sense B.2 in L&S).

But if we were to use a term to describe the job out of context (say, writing it in a curriculum vitae, for instance) I'd probably go for dapifer as you wrote.

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I suggest pincerna (Thanks to the comment of @Hugh, I found this word in the Vulgata in the Joseph-in-prison scene.)

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There are a lot of good answers here, but the one I like best is in the OP's question, minister and ministra.

It is true that minister has a somewhat broader meaning than "waiter", but if you are in a restaurant setting, I don't think there will be any ambiguity. I also note that John Traupman's dictionary lists minister when you look up "waiter" in the English-to-Latin section.

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For a definitively medieval flavour I suggest another word buticularius (the source of the modern English word "butler". The word buticularius is AFAIK not attested for the Classical period.

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