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What does "Did you save room for dessert?" mean? I'm an English learner. I don't know what this sentence means, especially the "save room" part. Please describe its meaning for me.

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    Where did you see this sentence? In a textbook? Which textbook?
    – James K
    Feb 2 at 21:25
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    It seems to just follow the literal meaning of the words. Did you try to look up both those words in a dictionary? Note that questions that can be answered by a quick dictionary lookup are out of scope for this site. The only unstated part here is where you're supposed to save room.
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 3 at 14:30
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    @NotThatGuy: I'm new here, and maybe don't understand the norms. But I don't see this as a dictionary lookup. I'm a native English speaker and certainly understand the phrase. But trying this with dictionary definitions doesn't seem to help. What does rescuing a walled partition of a building have to do with dessert? Or is this supposed to do with laying up of money? Is "room" supposed to the crowd present at an indoor event? Even if you get to "room" as empty space, and "save" as preserve, how would you make the leap to "stomach"? Feb 3 at 14:51
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    @ScottSauyet Looking something up in a dictionary doesn't mean stopping at the first definition, it means checking various ones until you find one that makes sense. So that definitely should lead one to "save room = preserving empty space". I wouldn't know where else you would need room for food, but if they got stuck there, that's probably fair enough, it's just that the question doesn't demonstrate that. "If you are asking about the meaning of a word or phrase, you should look up those words in a dictionary first. If you are still confused, be sure to summarize what you found..."
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 3 at 17:08
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    @NotThatGuy: While the question should have given more information about meanings tried and rejected, I do think you're glossing over the fact that "preserving empty space" is only one possibility of many, and it doesn't immediately lead to "in your stomach". Equally valid would be "on the table", and we could come up with others. And any answer found this way would probably miss the important point of the tact in the question mentioned in gunfulker's answer. Feb 3 at 17:24
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"Save" is being used to mean "put away for later". "Save" is often used this way when referring to money "Saving up to buy a car", or if someone wants you to share "save some for me".

"Room" is being used to mean "empty space". When entering a large gymnasium, one might say "there is a lot of room in here".

So "Did you save room for dessert?" is literally asking if you kept some space empty in your stomach for dessert, but it usually means they are offering you dessert.

It's a tactful way of offering because it allows someone to say "no, I'm full" if they don't want dessert.

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  • "Save" is also used to mean "rescue", the meaning is a little similar. "He rescued the hostages (from their fate)" "He rescued his money (from being spent)". "Room" is also used to mean a division within a house, usually separated by doorways or stairs. It originally meant space, but at some point it became common to refer to rooms as "dining room", "living room", "bed room", and generically any space within the house as "a room"
    – gunfulker
    Feb 3 at 8:51
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    A single-word synonym for this sense of "save" is "reserve". Feb 3 at 15:49
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    @gunfulker This sense is far removed from "rescue".
    – Barmar
    Feb 3 at 16:00
  • @Barmar Take it up with user "Janus Bahs Jacquet" in his answer here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/230596/…
    – gunfulker
    Feb 3 at 18:16
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    @gunfulker Janus Bahs Jacquet's answer is far removed from this question. Yes, "save" and "room" have the senses of "rescue" and "division in a house", but those senses are not relevant here. Your answer is excellent; your comment detracts from it. Feb 4 at 18:22
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It means, "Are you too full to eat dessert?"

Here is a definition from The Free Dictionary:

To refrain from eating too much so that one still has an appetite for something else later on.

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    One of the definitions of room is "an extent of space [...] available for something." This phrase is asking whether you've saved space within your stomach for dessert by not eating too much for dinner. Feb 2 at 19:03
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    Also, if said by a waiter, this is also a way of asking "would you like to order dessert?"
    – pboss3010
    Feb 2 at 20:18
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    Not even just said by a waiter... in fact, I've never heard someone say this in a context other than offering dessert.
    – Brad
    Feb 3 at 6:07
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    @Brad the same concept is used in things like 'do you have room for 1 more?' and things like that.
    – eps
    Feb 3 at 16:18
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    in food terms, it is mostly used to talk about room for desert, but you will occasionally see it used to refer to courses in general: ounews.co/education-languages-health/education/… It’s Boxing Day and you have munched enough chocolate, pudding, and turkey to sustain you for another twelve months; however, there is always room for another course.
    – eps
    Feb 3 at 16:26

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