1. A list of the dishes to be served or available for a meal.
2. The dishes served or available at a meal.
3. A list of available options, especially as displayed on a screen.
[French, small, minute, menu, from Old French menut, small, from Latin minūtus, past participle of minuere, to diminish; see mei-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: Menu can be traced back to the Latin word minūtus, meaning "small in size, amount, or degree" and also "possessing or involving minute knowledge." Latin minūtus became Old French menut and Modern French menu, "small, fine, trifling, minute." The French adjective came to be used as a noun with the senses "detail, details collectively," and "detailed list." As such, it was used in the phrase menu de repas, "list of items of a meal," which then was shortened to just menu. The French word was then borrowed into English in the 1800s.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.