Your Guide to the different names for “appetizers”

Who would have thought that the world of pre-dinner options could be so thorough? From Amuse-bouche to canapés, we give you the full break down of all your options here. If you have to choose food for a cocktail or dinner party, we’ve got your back.


Finger foods

“Food to be eaten with the fingers.”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Think pigs in a blanket, wings, and mini quiches. If you’re having a client event, you probably shouldn’t sell the evening based on “finger foods” (although this could work for those who are young at heart).


“A small dish of food or drink taken before a meal to stimulate one’s appetite.”
For the most part, the word appetizer encompasses most of the below and what you will be looking for. They are served before the main course of a meal.

Hors d’oeuvres

“A one-bite item that’s either stationary or passed and served separate from or prior to a meal.”
Appetizers and hors de’oeuvres are almost one in the same. Hors d’oeuvres can be served with or without a meal afterwards, which is often the case at many receptions and cocktail parties. There are two types of hors d’oeuvres:

  • Passed – referred to as “butler-style” or “butlered”
  • Stationary – at a table “table hors d’oeuvres”


“A small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite.”
Yep, this is just a fancy way of saying hors d’oeuvres and/or appetizers. For the record, the only person we know that can pull of saying this is our British CEO. If you think you can pull it off too call us (1.855.KAPOWUS).


“A single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre.” (translates to “mouth amuser” in French)
While still considered hors d’oeuvre, they are different from appetizers because guests don’t order them from a menu. Instead, they are chosen by the chef and served to prepare the guest for the meal. So next time someone asks you if you want an Amuse-bouches, no need to run away…just tell them to pass some over!


“An alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.”
These are usually dry rather than sweet (vermouth, champagne, fino, amontillado, dry sherry, and any still, dry, light white wine). It may also refer to a snack that precedes a meal (yet another “appetizer”).

Next time you’re reviewing your options for pre-dinner foods, consider these different types. Would you prefer to avoid hammering out the finer details of your canapes? Our events have preselected and approved food options.


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