‘Place an Order’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on February 16, 2023

Did someone ask you to ‘place an order,’ and you’re not sure what it means?

In short, to ‘place an order’ means to submit a request for something, in particular, to be served, made, or supplied. You might ‘place an order’ online for a certain product or ‘place an order’ for food at a restaurant, for example.

What Does 'Place an Order' Mean?

To ‘place an order’ means “to submit a request for something to be supplied, made, or served.”

For instance, when you call a restaurant to ask them to prepare food for you to pick up and bring home, it is known as ‘placing an order.’ Similarly, when you purchase something online, you are ‘placing an order.’

Where Does 'Place an Order' Come From?

As a noun, the word ‘place’ dates back to around the year 1200, but the verb form of the word comes from the mid-fifteenth-century word placen. At this time, the word had two definitions, which were:

  • “To put (something) in a particular position.”
  • “To determine the position of.”

The word order has a number of definitions and meanings, some of which date back to around 1200. The commercial sense of the word meaning “a written direction to deliver property or pay money,” dates back to 1837, while the sense of requesting food or drink in a restaurant dates back to 1836.

Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that the phrase is used minimally during the bulk of the 19th century. However, it started to become more common around 1880, perhaps because of the Second Industrial Revolution. It reached a peak in about 1920 before becoming less common and increased to its highest peak in about 1998 before becoming less common again.

In Volume 28 of a publication from 1899 named The Railway Age, we find the phrase being used with its contemporary meaning:

“It is said that the New York New Haven & Hartford is in the market for parlor cars, and that it will soon place an order for them with the Pullman Palace Car Company.”

In Volume 71 of Printers’ Ink from 1910, we find another usage of the phrase:

“Indeed, he goes so far that he really unofficially binds his house to place this advertising, and write back to the main offices a letter to that effect, accompanied with the news that the jobbing house of Soakem & Cheatem has agreed to place an order of some size, provided his superiors will show their co-operation in effecting sales by advertising as requested.”

These days, it’s very common to hear someone use the phrase ‘place an order.’ For example, if you and your co-workers are getting lunch from a restaurant downtown, they might ask you to ‘place an order’ twenty minutes before your lunch break begins so the food will be ready when you get there.

Examples of 'Place an Order' In Sentences

How would you use 'place an order' in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples.

  • “This chocolate is the best of the best and hard to come by. You can’t get it in stores– you have to place an order with the company in Switzerland.”
  • “I know you’re all exhausted right now, but we need to finish this job before the end of the day. To dangle a carrot in front of your noses, I’ll place an order at the pizza shop– dinner’s on me.”
  • “Since we’re stuck in traffic, maybe we can call the lumber yard and place an order. That way, they can have our supplies ready for us when we get there, and we can still make it to the bank before it closes.”
  • “She was going to place an order for a set of living room furniture, but she had second thoughts when she saw that it would take eight months to arrive.”
  • “Our biggest customer just called and said they’re coming in to place an order.”
  • “I used to buy dog food by placing an order online, but I realized it’s cheaper at my local pet food store.”
  • Can you place an order at the Chinese restaurant down the street while I’m in this meeting? I’m starving, and I’d love to have lunch right when it’s over.”

Ready to learn more English idioms and phrases? Head over to our idioms blog!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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