Can ordering a meal at a restaurant be considered an act of 'giving notice'?

Some people (I am not sure whether it should be a majority) find the following sentence unacceptable:

The waiter served us on short notice two cups of coffee and two jumbo steaks that would normally take one hour to prepare.

And I found the following sentence, with "on short notice" and "serve" in the same sentence in Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal:

He'd never stayed at the Red Boar Inn before, but he was impressed by its cleanliness and by the quality of the kidney pie she served him on short notice; all the diners had been abed when he'd arrived.

Do you find the first sentence acceptable?
If not, do you find the second one unacceptable as well?

  • 2
    In your first example, the waiter didn’t serve you on short notice—the kitchen made the food on short notice. Waiters are expected to serve things as soon as the kitchen tells them the food is ready to be served; there is no real prior ‘notice’ to the act of serving itself. In the sentence you quoted about the Red Boar Inn, ‘she’ is not a waiter serving things from the kitchen, but (presumably) the proprietress herself, and ‘serving’ here is not just carrying something to your table, but making it and then serving it. So there it works. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 10:30
  • 1
    As far as I know, the more idiomatic and common way of saying this is 'at short notice' rather than 'on'. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 10:40
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thank you for your response. Do you think giving an order at a restaurant is an instance of giving notice? My second question is, wouldn't we typically view the waiter and the cook as a group when it comes to serving a meal? If the meal you ordered were served to you as fast as it was ready, but the cook took a long time, say one hour, to prepare it, would you say "The waiter served me the meal very quickly."?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 12:27
  • 1
    "Giving notice", in the US, is generally taken to mean informing your employer that you will be quitting the job.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 13:16

2 Answers 2


On short notice is an idiom meaning with little advance warning.

on short notice
quickly and without a timely notification of other people; with very little lead time. She called the meeting on such short notice that we had no time to prepare.


short notice
1. little advance warning ⇒ Three days was short notice but he would go.


No actual act of 'giving notice' is required:

short notice, on
Also, at short notice. With little advance warning or time to prepare, as in They told us to be ready to move out on short notice. The noun notice here is used in the sense of “information” or “intelligence.” [Late 1700s ]


at short notice with little advance warning ⇒ Thank you for coming at such short notice.

Notice is used in expressions such as 'at short notice', 'at a moment's notice' or 'at twenty-four hours' notice', to indicate that something can or must be done within a short period of time. ⇒ There's no one available at such short notice to take her class. ⇒ All our things stayed in our suitcase, as if we had to leave at a moment's notice.



The waiter expedited your order.

expedite: Make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly

  • This doesn't even attempt to answer the question, which was about the use of the word "notice".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:24
  • @ColinFine - Your comment is irrelevant. The question is about placing an order in a restaurant, and the OP has mistakenly latched on to "giving notice".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:28

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