1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

take lunch [=eat lunch?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ShirleyLing, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. ShirleyLing

    ShirleyLing Senior Member

    San Francisco
    chinese
    For native speakers, is it natural to say,
    to mean that "He ate lunch late today"?
     
  2. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, it is used. You can take a meal, take food, etc. (At least it works in the English varieties I'm familiar with!)
     
  3. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Santa Maria, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I'm familiar with hearing this most often in the context of lunch breaks at work.
    "I'd like to take lunch early, at 11. Could you cover for me?"

    I'd be less inclined to say I was going to take lunch if I simply meant that I was going out to eat somewhere.
     
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I agree with xqby - that's how I'd use "take lunch" too:).
     
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Yes, you can provide the dropped words to understand it better.

    I am taking my lunch [break] late today.

    "Break" means a break from your work chores.
     
  6. ShirleyLing

    ShirleyLing Senior Member

    San Francisco
    chinese
    So, "take lunch" is more vague than "eat lunch"?
     
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I wonder where you got that idea?!

    He took his lunch late today.
    He ate his lunch late today.

    Those two have pretty much identical meanings. For example you could use either for this scenario:
    He normally consumes his meal at noon but today he consumed it at 2 pm.

    It's not at all uncommon in English to be able to use different words and have identical meanings. Just because the words used are different doesn't always mean you can find a difference in meaning :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  8. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I think that "take lunch" has a different meaning than "eat lunch". It means in my opinion that you are taking the time that was allowed for lunch and you are using that time to eat that lunch. The "take" refers to the time allowed, and not the consumption of the food. It means "I will take my lunch break at..."

    It is not unusual to hear something like this: I'm going to take lunch at 2:00 today so that I can pick up my son at day care. I'll grab a sandwich and eat at my desk afterwards.

    "Take lunch" in that context means that the speaker intends to take the allotted time for lunch and use it for another purpose.
     
  9. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    In making that distinction, I would overtly use the word break to make it clear it was the time to be taken and not the meal. Perhaps there are traces of my UK heritage and visions of the servant asking the overnight guest "At what time would your lordship like to take breakfast?" :eek:
     
  10. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Strange though is the comparison between "lunch break" and "coffee break". We don't (or, we don't at my place of work) "take coffee" in the same manner that we "take lunch". The construction is the same; you would think that the wording would be too.
     
  11. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I don't really agree that the "take" in "take lunch" refers to the time - although it would feel that way to us since nowadays we don't use "take" as a synonym for "eat" that much.

    However... check the dictionary!
    In fact, one of the examples they give for this definition of "take" is "We took an early breakfast." I think that, historically at least, "to take lunch" means nothing more and nothing less than "to eat lunch" - to take the food into your body through the medium of your mouth.
     
  12. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I disagree. I never hear "take lunch" outside the work environment. The exception being, perhaps when you are painting your bedroom and you "took a lunch break".

    But in any case the "took" or "take" refers to the time off from a work activity.

    Even your "We took an early breakfast" connotes that you took the earlier time slot for eating. I don't hear that phrasing too often though.
     
  13. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Could it be that you probably hear "take lunch" mostly at work because, well, that's where you tend to be in the middle of the day?

    But that being said, think about "take tea" for a use of "take" as eating. Or "Madam's soufflé is ready." "I shall take it here, in the solarium."

    And finally, it might be that today most speakers understand and use "take" in "take lunch" as related to an implicit "lunch break." However, the experts on the history of the English language seem to agree: originally, the "take" in "take lunch" referred directly to the ingestion of food substances at lunchtime. It's interesting because the meaning of "take" as "ingest" has pretty much faded away, to the point where we can't even recognize its use in phrases such as "take lunch" (we only think of it that way in phrases like "take drugs").
     
  14. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In my variety at least, it is not unusual to talk about someone taking (or not taking) red meat or shellfish. My impression is that take to mean '(habitually) consume' is less common in AmE. Here's an example.

     
  15. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I guess I'll just have to take my medicine - take belongs to a faded bygone era and higher register (or maybe it's just taking a break) but for now it seems "non-standard" in many parts.
     

Share This Page