A colloquial expression which entered the English language in the late 18th century, meaning a light refreshment taken at about 11 o'clock in the morning. Although the timing is flexible and the extent of the refreshment, especially the food element, has proved to be highly variable, the institution has retained its place in the daily schedule of most British people. Nor are they alone in this. Of the many corresponding institutions in other parts of the world, the most important is probably the Mediterranean merenda or merienda. However, the zweite Fruhstuck (second breakfast) eaten in various German-speaking regions is an important northerly counterpart of this meridional institution.So now I have a name for that mid-morning apple. That makes it all so sophisticated somehow.
In Chile there are salas de onces (Spanish for eleven), where empanadas, cakes, and snacks can be bought; and derived from the 'English custom of having tea or coffee and biscuits at eleven in the morning' and has become, 'by some extraordinary transmutation, afternoon tea, so that a
is a tea shop'. Under Malta is a description of the refreshments taken by Maltese office workers in mid-morning. These examples could be multiplied, since the need for some refreshment between breakfast (especially if early and/or light) and lunch or its equivalent is wide-spread, although not universal, among human beings.
In this connection, it is necessary to heed the warning given by the expiring Henry King, that elevenses or for that matter other light refreshments punctuating the day should not be allowed to attain the status of meals.