This movie is catering towards fans and leaving the rest of us out in the cold.
The author’s latest book catered towards women and children.
If you associate “catering” with food, you might be especially confused what food has to do with movies or books.
But are the movie maker and author in question actually feeding their fans, in addition to giving them books and movies?
As with many explanations of the English language, the answer lies in metaphor.
What is the meaning of catering towards?
The phrase “catering towards” means to do something in an attempt to gain favor from a specific group of people. This phrase can be used to describe the specific details of the situation or just to say someone is making the attempt.
Catering: Not just about eating out
The word “cater” is a verb that means to provide someone with food and drink, usually in a professional capacity.
For example, if you were a restaurant owner and would be providing food at an event, you could say you were catering the event.
However, when you add the word “towards” to cater, the meaning changes considerably.
Catering as metaphor
Like many languages, English has a long history of using metaphors in its expressions.
Some of these metaphors are very detailed. For instance, when you tell someone that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, you’re painting a whole metaphorical picture to make a point.
In other cases, however, the metaphor is a lot simpler. Examples of simple metaphors include “hitched breath”, “catching my breath,” and “fiery tongue.”
In the case of “catering towards,” all you’re doing is substituting the provision of food and drink for something else.
Thinking back to our examples at the beginning of the sentence, a movie that “caters towards fans” probably just includes a lot of things that fans of a movie franchise want to see.
As anyone who’s tried to watch the last movie in a lengthy movie series knows, this makes it hard to understand what’s going on.
Likewise, a book that is catering towards women and children would have things in it that the author thinks readers in those demographics would like.
In short, someone who is “catering towards” a person or group of people is just giving them the things they want to see in a product, political decision, or some other kind of professional service.
Note that “catering” is definitely a metaphor, and not a simile. These two rhetorical techniques are often confused for one another.
If you’re not sure which is which, check out our guide on simile vs metaphor.
Using “catering towards” in a sentence
It’s easy to use “catering towards” in a sentence. Just place this verb phrase in the sentence after the person doing the action.
Note that “catering” is a transitive verb in this case, so you’ll need to place the person or group being catered to after the phrase.
If you aren’t sure whether the phrase can be used to talk about the specific thing you have in mind, try substituting it with “giving [object] what they want.”
That is, instead of “She is catering towards artists,” you could say “She is giving artists what they want.”
In this more detailed example, the speaker’s husband has a pretty clear dislike of the movie he’s discussing. Although “catering towards” doesn’t have to have a negative connotation like this, it often can.
In this case, someone has accused the minister of bowing to the demands of large companies instead of thinking about ordinary people first.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.