I have lately noticed, at both ends of a recent thousand-mile relocation within the USA, that people are increasingly using the verb “do” in ordering food, in place of that “have” which various sites still model or enjoin for English language learners—as in (to a waiter) “I’ll do a Cobb salad.” Whence comes this trend, how widespread is it, and when did it arise?

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    Well, since everyone seems to also do lunch, dinner, breakfast and drinks, it is not a stretch to imagine they are "doing the food", as well. It's almost as bad (but not quite) as: "Can I git a tuna on rye?"
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:20
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    It's potentially confusing, as 'do' is also used for 'sell / provide / make [food]'. "Do you do a madras?" Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:44
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    I haven't heard that, I don't think. I mean, I would understand it, but I'm not sure that I've heard that. Now maybe I will. Sometimes things fly by us until someone points them out. Anyway, I agree with @Lambie 👍. People use "do" in "Let's do lunch," so it's not a stretch for someone to use "do," though technically, since "do" means "make," it kind of sounds like the person isn't ordering it but making it. Maybe it means "I'll do/make my order..." Or maybe we're overthinking it. Anywho, I hope you find out where it came from. 🤞🙂
    – user361733
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:45
  • I agree with @EdwinAshworth 👍, too. I think I said as much, but it could possibly be confusing 🤔 to some people.
    – user361733
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:46
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    Just as a side not, in Italy, a country renowned for food, “fare” (to do) is commonly used to for ordering food. “Mi faccio una pizza”
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


It appears to be an old usage, especially in BrE and AusE.

To do - to offer or consume:

(a) to eat or drink, usu. with the relevant food or drink attached, e.g. do a couple of pints, do a burger.

  • 1849 [UK] Sam Sly 31 Mar. 2/2: Ned, the bricklayer, not to do his seven pints before breakfast.

  • 1861 [Aus] Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 May 3/3: [He] betook himself to Bottomley's Temple of Bacchus [...] There he ‘did’ Bass No 3, October brewing in triplicate.

  • 1972 [US] Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 2: do – general, all-purpose action verb: Let’s do a few beers.


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    Do a few beers, sure. But not when ordering food.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:51
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    @Lambie - as you said in a comment, the move from “let’s do lunch” to “let’s do a salad” is an easy one.
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:55
  • Yes, I agree you say that to the person with you, but to the waiter?
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 15:57
  • Well, evidence provided by the OP appears to go in that direction.
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 16:00

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