Social Question

rawrgrr's avatar

Do you think its rude to eat with your elbow(s) on the table? Why?

Asked by rawrgrr (1559points) August 9th, 2010

My mom keeps telling me not to eat with my elbow(s) on the table because apparently it’s “rude.” I don’t really understand why since sometimes the sharp edge of the table hurts my forearms and sometimes I just like to rest my arm on the table so I don’t feel uncomfortable. But apparently it’s “okay” when i’m finished eating… When I ask why she keeps telling me it’s rude she just says she doesn’t know and does it because she was raised that way but I just keep thinking it’s really silly. I tell her it’s just as silly as saying it’s rude to drink your glass with your left hand or wipe your mouth with a napkin with your right hand but she refuses to change her opinion.

Am I missing something? Do you tell the same to your kids? Why?

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29 Answers

MissA's avatar

It’s rude, but I like to do it, too.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It is because it makes you look like Captain Caveman ;)

rawrgrr's avatar

@MissA but why is it rude?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Look, I’m with you – I find most rules associated with table and eating etiquette to be bs, anyway and no, I don’t teach this bs to my children – although, when it comes to certain ‘norms’, I do tell them something along the lines of ‘look, I don’t care if you want to eat boogers in private..just remember that in public some people care about stuff like that and will think of you in a negative fashion’...Also, I believe some people consider it rude (especially for girls) because you’re supposed to keep all your limbs to yourself at all times and not take too much space.

MissA's avatar

It is unacceptable behavior with regard to table manners. That’s it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MissA No, that’s not it, because it makes no sense to just say ‘that’s it’ without explaining why.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes. It’s poor manners and if everyone did it there wouldn’t be enough room on the table for the food and dishes.

MissA's avatar


I said that it is unacceptable behavior with regard to table manners. Etiquette.

rawrgrr's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thanks for that answer, I agree with you and I just wish that I didn’t have to go through this because “everyone is doing it.” that just seems so silly to me.

@perspicacious Interesting you bring that up. That’s how the trend started. But I have a big table at home and so do many people these days so space isn’t really a problem. People say it wether or not you have a very limited amount of space and it makes me scratch my head. I don’t really understand.

MissA's avatar

@rawrgrr There are cultural behaviors that sometimes have nothing to do with practicality. I’m imagining that there was a root purpose to this…although, I do not know it.

If you don’t like it, don’t do it. See how it goes for you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MissA I understood you the first time. It didn’t answer @rawrgrr ‘s question, though.

Blackberry's avatar

It depends on where you are and who you’re with. I’ve eaten with families that go to the living room and eat in front of the TV, and I’ve eaten with very straight laced families that use different forks for salad and entrees.

ducky_dnl's avatar

I went to etiquette school when I was 14. I loved it! The reason behind not eating slumped over at the table is 1.) it is polite and 2.) it helps you digest your food better when you are sitting up straight. When I would go to etiquette school they would set up a fake meal, tell you to put two books on your head and sit. If you couldn’t do this, you tried as many times as it took. You would have to keep the books on your head while sitting, with you back against your chair. In turn it gave you the correct posture, and automatically your elbows would never even come close to the table. As my etiquette teach said: “Table manners were invented for a reason, girls. You are not animals, and you shall not eat like one.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ducky_dnl You went to etiquette school? How does one get interested in such a thing?

Austinlad's avatar

According to one source, the great houses and castles of England during the Middle Ages did not have dining tables in the great halls, so tables were made from trestles and covered with a cloth. The diners sat along one side only; if they put their elbows on the table and leant too heavily, the table could collapse.

ducky_dnl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I actually was put in it by my mom because I kept begging her to put me in etiquette school. I just liked watching movies like Titanic and I adored the way they ate and acted. Very refined and I wanted to be refined like them. I will admit when I am with friends eating in like a park..I can be a bit messy lol.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ducky_dnl Well, interesting…that’s for sure. How does it feel to be refined?

rawrgrr's avatar

@ducky_dnl2.) it helps you digest your food better when you are sitting up straight.
Didn’t really realize that until now. Thanks for that!

ducky_dnl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t feel any better than anyone else. :/ I do like knowing what I have learned, but I’m no different.

DominicX's avatar

I always thought it was because you might hit a plate or something or knock over a cup or something. I’ve noticed that I don’t seem to do it half of the time, and the other half of the time, I do do it.

Do I think it’s rude? No. Something has to have a reason for being rude. “It just is” is not a reason.

This is a big problem I have with etiquette and society in general. People do things, believe things, and say things “just because” and don’t think about the reasons behind doing things. Maybe I’m asking too much of people and maybe I just think too much and overanalyze everything. But I’m never satisfied with “just because”. Some people are satisfied with that and their lives are probably easier for that reason.

SundayKittens's avatar

Ooo, those are all good reasons behind the rule that I’d never thought of. Other than that, it’s one of those social rules we must follow so that others don’t think we’re rude…even if it is sort of pointless. I coudn’t care less but I still keep mine down.

jazmina88's avatar

I have shoulder and elbow pain and have very poor range in right arm and torn labrum in left shoulder. I tend to put elbows on the table because it doesnt hurt so bad.

Now, am I socially unacceptable? though I truly dont care….or should I wear a sign to explain??

YARNLADY's avatar

In public, I suppose it is probably rude, but at home, we don’t have an issue with it.

SundayKittens's avatar


rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t like it when people chew with their mouths open because it lends to the spray factor and I don’t like wearing other’s dinner. So there are some rules of etiquette that I applaud. But the elbows on the table thing seems like a big deal over nothing to me.

jazmina88's avatar

I think I will get carry out…..
But @SundayKittens I lurve you!!

chocolatechip's avatar

The only time it’s a problem is if your elbows are invading someone’s seat.

I honestly couldn’t care less about offending someone who thinks putting elbows on the table is rude.

SundayKittens's avatar

@jazmina88 Yessssssssssssssss. Mission accomplished!

mattbrowne's avatar

It depends on the culture of the country.

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