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Server vs. Waiter: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 26, 2024
A server is a gender-neutral term for someone who serves food and drinks in a restaurant, while a waiter specifically refers to a male serving staff member.

Key Differences

The term "server" is a modern, gender-neutral designation for a person who serves customers in food service establishments. "Waiter," traditionally, refers specifically to a male staff member performing the same role.
Servers are responsible for taking orders, serving food and drinks, and ensuring customer satisfaction in a dining setting. Waiters, historically male-oriented in title, perform identical tasks in restaurants.
The use of "server" has become more prevalent as it inclusively covers all genders and is seen as more politically correct. The term "waiter" is still in use but is increasingly being replaced by "server" in many establishments.
Both servers and waiters are integral to the restaurant experience, focusing on customer service, efficiency, and knowledge of the menu. The main difference lies in the gender specificity of the title "waiter."
In terms of duties, there is no difference between a server and a waiter: both are key in taking orders, providing recommendations, handling customer inquiries, and ensuring a pleasant dining experience.

Comparison Chart

Gender Implication

Gender-neutral term.
Traditionally male-oriented.

Modern Usage

Increasingly preferred for inclusivity.
Still used, but less frequently.


Takes orders, serves food, attends to customers.
Identical duties as server.

Political Correctness

Seen as more politically correct.
Can be seen as gender-specific.

Cultural Shift

Reflects modern, inclusive language trends.
Reflects traditional language use.

Server and Waiter Definitions


A server is a person who serves food and drinks at a restaurant.
The server expertly balanced several plates while delivering our order.


A waiter is a male staff member who serves customers in a dining establishment.
The waiter efficiently took our order and brought out the appetizers.


Servers often have knowledge of menu items and ingredients.
The server was very knowledgeable about the wine pairings.


Waiters provide menu recommendations and answer any dining-related questions.
The waiter suggested the seafood platter, which turned out to be excellent.


A server takes customer orders and ensures a pleasant dining experience.
Our server recommended the chef's special, which was delightful.


A waiter is responsible for the overall customer experience at their tables.
The waiter checked in on us frequently to ensure our satisfaction.


A server can work in various dining settings, from casual to upscale.
The server at the upscale restaurant was very professional and attentive.


Waiters often assist in setting and clearing tables in addition to serving food.
The waiter swiftly cleared the table and prepared it for the next guests.


Servers are responsible for handling payment and customer inquiries.
The server promptly brought the check when we were finished.


A waiter typically handles the final bill and payment process.
The waiter processed our payment efficiently at the end of the meal.


One who serves food and drink. See Usage Note at waiter.


One who serves at a table, as in a restaurant.


One who serves.


A tray or salver.


A waitress or waiter.


A male or female attendant who serves customers at their tables in a restaurant, café or similar.
Waiter! There's a fly in my soup.


(stative) To work as a waiter.


A person whose occupation is to serve at table (as in a restaurant)


A person who waits or awaits


Are the duties of a server and a waiter different?

No, the duties of a server and a waiter are generally the same.

What is a server?

A server is a person who serves food and drinks to customers in a restaurant.

What is a waiter?

A waiter is a male staff member who serves customers in a dining setting.

What skills should a server have?

A server should have good communication, customer service, multitasking, and menu knowledge.

Do servers only work in restaurants?

Primarily, but they can also work in other food service environments like catering events.

Why is the term "server" more common now?

"Server" is more common due to its gender-neutral and inclusive nature.

Can a woman be called a waiter?

Traditionally, "waiter" refers to a male, while "waitress" is used for females; however, "server" is gender-neutral.

Is the term "waiter" still used?

Yes, but it's being gradually replaced by the more inclusive term "server."

What's the average tip for a server or waiter?

Typically, 15-20% of the bill, depending on the service quality and local customs.

Do waiters only work in formal dining settings?

No, waiters can work in various dining settings, from casual to formal.

Is there a female equivalent to a waiter?

Yes, "waitress" is the traditional female equivalent to "waiter."

How can servers increase their tips?

By providing excellent service, being friendly, and responsive to customer needs.

How do servers handle difficult customers?

Servers handle difficult customers with patience, diplomacy, and by following restaurant policies.

Is being a waiter a good part-time job?

Yes, it can be flexible and suitable for part-time work.

Do waiters have to clean tables?

Yes, they often assist in setting and clearing tables, though this can vary by establishment.

Can servers make drink recommendations?

Yes, servers often have knowledge of drinks and can make recommendations.

Do servers work on holidays?

Yes, servers often work on holidays, as these are busy times for restaurants.

Can servers suggest menu items for dietary restrictions?

Yes, knowledgeable servers can suggest items suitable for various dietary needs.

Do waiters need formal training?

Formal training isn't always required, but it can be beneficial, especially in upscale dining.

Are there different types of waiters?

Yes, there are various types, including head waiter, sommelier, and banquet waiter.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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