Meals: Dinner and tea?

Mph redux

Member
Catalonia, Catalan.
Hi,
In Nothern England they say "tea" instead of "dinner".

Example:
"what do you want for tea?"

I wonder if there are other English speaking communities using this peculiar form...

cheers

mph
 
  • Ecossaise

    Senior Member
    English
    Scotland has "High tea" and what's peculiar about it? Tea is a meal taken in the late afternoon - it can be anything from a cup of tea and a biscuit, to a cooked meal.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I grew up in the southwest of England, the daughter of two Welsh teachers. We all had school dinners at mid-day, then a cooked tea after we came home from school. Nobody I knew then had dinner in the evening....

    Loob
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    I usually consider high tea to be a very high-end gathering where tea is served. I wouldn't use the term in place of the word dinner.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I usually consider high tea to be a very high-end gathering where tea is served. I wouldn't use the term in place of the word dinner.
    Less well-off people in the UK don't use the word dinner much to mean anything other than lunch. MphRedux is right about the way they use the word tea, particularly in the North of England. It may be changing now, but the usage was very common twenty years ago.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Originally the word high didn't refer to high as in grand or glorified, but to the height of the table at which it was served. It thus meant the kind of meal taken sitting at a proper dining table, rather than sitting in comfy chairs with low tables and the cups and plates more or less held in the hands. It seem now though that "high tea" has taken on a meaning closer to that of a more grand or perhaps "slap up" version of afternoon tea. I would expect that few people now talk about taking high tea in the original sense.

    When I was a young mole we had four meals a day, breakfast, dinner (lunch as it is called by modern moles) tea at around 6pm and supper around 9pm. Tea would be technically high tea and would involve something cooked (unlike afternoon tea). We would never call that meal high tea, even though it was.

    There might additionally be afternoon tea, if visitors came, otherwise it would just be a cup of tea and biscuits. Tea can also be taken at 11am, and is called "elevenses".
     

    pollofrito

    Senior Member
    Mexico - Español
    In New Zealand, people say 'tea' quite regularly. They say 'dinner' as well.

    The first time I heard that expression was when a New Zealander friend asked me whether she could be at my house for tea. I said "Yes, sure!, what time are you coming over?'. She replied 'What about 6?', and I said 'great'.

    When she arrived I had already had my dinner and had only black tea and biscuits prepared for her. Back then I wondered why she ate a lot of biscuits!!! (she was hungry of course)
     

    Mph redux

    Member
    Catalonia, Catalan.
    In New Zealand, people say 'tea' quite regularly. They say 'dinner' as well.

    The first time I heard that expression was when a New Zealander friend asked me whether she could be at my house for tea. I said "Yes, sure!, what time are you coming over?'. She replied 'What about 6?', and I said 'great'.

    When she arrived I had already had my dinner and had only black tea and biscuits prepared for her. Back then I wondered why she ate a lot of biscuits!!! (she was hungry of course)
    this is exactly what I meant!
    to use the word "tea" refering "dinner".

    I wonder if most English settlers in New Zealand came from North England ??? it may explain that...I don't know...
     

    Elowen

    Member
    English English
    I'm from Somerset and call the evening meal "tea", so it's not restricted to Northern England. I usually use "dinner" for a cooked meal around midday - if I just have a sandwich or something it's "lunch".
     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    When first visiting England -Liverpool area- I was robbed of dinner because I didn't understand they were talking about food when saying they'd make tea! Knowing how much tea Brits gobble down, I took for granted there was yet another cuppa coming, but as the sweet scent of food started to crawl up my nostrils, I realised my mistake. Well, I don't really know what I'm contributing here apart from bitter experience, but at least I can say I've not heard it anywhere else (that I've been to, obviously!) :)
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The term "tea" meaning a full evening meal, as opposed to a light afternoon snack with tea and cake or cookies, is never used in the United States, and most Americans are completely unaware that anyone would ever use the word with this meaning. I have seen my countrymen confused by visiting Brits who, for example, asked for recommendations for a good restaurant for "tea".
     

    Mph redux

    Member
    Catalonia, Catalan.
    thanks to all for very nice contributions !

    Tomas Tompion mentioned that the less well-off people in the UK use the word "dinner" to refer "lunch", which is very interesting too!
    It is very curious to learn that many things that we were taught in school are not really as the teacher said. I mean..."it depends", isn't it?

    Curiosity:
    In my language, lunch is "dinar" which has obviously the same root as "dinner". That's why many Catalan people got very confuse with this word!

    cheers!

    mph
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I can see how people in UK can use "tea" for "dinner", I don't use it like that. However sometimes people will say: "What are we going to eat for food?" "What are we going to eat for our grub?" Or something like that, so the food or grub can mean lunch/dinner (depending on the time of the day and context).

    Pablo
     

    chloeshell

    New Member
    English US
    I'm from the US and have a friend in New Zealand. There have been a couple of what i saw as funny interactions until I realized that the word "tea" can refer to what we usually call dinner. The first time my friend said he was going to tea. I knew it was kind of late there so I said, Isn't kind of late for tea time?" He said tea means dinner. I didn't fully get it because the next time, he told me had just been eating tea. I thought that was hysterical.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Now, in the US you have your Thanksgiving dinner generally at about 2pm or so. If you have a meal that evening, that presumably isn't 'tea', but is it another dinner?
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    For me, the evening meal is always supper. (The noon meal is lunch; I use dinner only for special meals, such as the above-mentioned Thanksgiving dinner.)
     
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