At receptions, small pieces of food are often served, that can be eaten "on the thumb" even when holding a cup of champagne in the other hand.

What to call this kind of food in English?

I was convinced this could be called "thumb food", but Google proves me wrong.

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  • 2
    In the UK and often in slightly less formal situations these are called 'Nibbles'. (A nibble is a tiny bite). Jun 17, 2014 at 13:33
  • @Tristan: In even less formal situations, they might be called snacky-poos by the "twee" middle class, or munchies by the sugar/fat-obsessed proles. Jun 17, 2014 at 15:20
  • In my circle, we just call them "bites" to mean "finger food" served at cocktails or parties
    – user76946
    Jun 18, 2018 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


Finger food comes to mind. You were close with your thumb!

They are also conventionally called appetizers or hors d'oeuvres, even though according to the strict definitions appetizers or hors d'oeuvres precede proper meals, whereas at cocktail parties, an actual meal does not normally follow.

  • 2
    "Finger food" answers the question but is a little informal. Jun 17, 2014 at 17:42
  • 5
    Strict definitions aside, an appetizer is widely understood to precede a meal, which doesn't apply to hors d'oeuvres.
    – Kaz
    Jun 17, 2014 at 19:32
  • 1
    Growing up in California and living in Massachusetts, either "finger food" or "hors d'oeuvres" would be understood to indicate the OP's picture. "Appetizers" are generally understood to mean the light food before a meal (though in the context of a banquet where the snacks in OP's picture do actually precede a meal, I suppose "appetizers" would be appropriate)
    – Doktor J
    Mar 9, 2017 at 23:44
  • "Hors d'oeuvre" is a French term pronounced "or DURVE", more or less Jun 26, 2018 at 16:01

The term canapé is often used.

Technically, a canapé is just one kind of hors d'oeuvre – specifically, the kind with a small piece of bread or toast, or something similar, as a base – but the term has, in the UK at least, come to be used for all such foods.

  • 3
    It is particularly common in England to refer to any small pre-meal food such as this as a "canapé". I seldom hear the term "hors d'oeuvres". Jun 17, 2014 at 19:16
  • 1
    @AlastairMaw The situation is the reverse in the US, in my experience. I'd never heard of canapé till five minutes ago.
    – user6951
    Jun 18, 2014 at 1:35
  • 3
    @CarSmack Yeah, but then you guys call main courses entrées and are therefore deeply confused about this stuff. ;-) Jun 18, 2014 at 13:10

Such food is often referred to as hors d'oeuvres. Literally, "outside of the main work."

  • Because hors d'oeuvres is a French phrase, the pronunciation of the phrase does not follow English's normal phonetic rules. The pronunciation is close to "or derves", and more-or-less rhymes with "for serves".
    – Jasper
    Aug 13, 2017 at 23:37

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