Meals: Supper, breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner.

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Redshade

Banned
UK
English.
There's a bit of cultural/regional variation as has already been said.

In the north of England the working class person would never use the word "lunch" it being seen as a "posh" word
used by white collar office workers/southerners.

We would have breakfast,dinner (mid-day),tea (late afternoon) and supper (late evening).These were always the names of the meal even though what was eaten could vary greatly.

As a child I had a "school dinner" at mid-day which consisted of a hot meal followed by pudding.

When I got home from school I had my tea which was usually sandwiches and cake ( and jelly on special occasions or at the weekend).

Supper could be anything from a jam sandwich to a portion of fish and chips depending on circumstances.

As an adult I usually had a mid-day sandwich at my desk for my dinner and go home to a tea which would be the main meal/pudding of the day which I partook with my father who had always had his main meal at this time after a hard day's work.

Nowadays a decent hot dinner is a hot dinner whether eaten at dinnertime ,teatime or suppertime.
 
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    As a child I had a "school dinner" at mid-day which consisted of a hot meal followed by pudding.
    The standard term in the UK (regardless of social class) is still school dinner - as in Jamie Oliver's campaign and television series Jamie's School Dinners. (I assume it's also a mid-day dinner at Eton and Harrow? Can someone verify?)

    I'm a 52-year-old Midwesterner who grew up in a rural area in Central Illinois. ... However, at school the midday meal was referred to as lunch.
    And therefore 'school dinner' is not AmE.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Some kids take school dinners.
    Those who don't bring a packed lunch.
    Thanks. That's true. I suppose that's because school dinners are typically hot cooked meals and packed lunches are typically sandwiches (fruit, snack bar, crisps, etc). It's the (theoretical) notion of how substantial it is that determines the choice of the term.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Thanks. That's true. I suppose that's because school dinners are typically hot cooked meals and packed lunches are typically sandwiches (fruit, snack bar, crisps, etc). It's the (theoretical) notion of how substantial it is that determines the choice of the term.
    Yes, even in the south we have "dinner ladies" at school not "lunch ladies" (which would make me think of the girls in sex and the city).
     
    How about the following slang words:

    1) brunch - a meal in the middle of the day (not exactly in the middle but very close to it), between breakfast in lunch.

    1) lupper - a meal between lunch and supper.

    How often are these words used? Are they British or American originally?

    Thanks in advance
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Brunch is relatively common, American in origin I think, but now used on either side of the Atlantic. The old term was elevenses (for a snack around 11.00am) or morning tea. I've never heard of lupper though! The other thing that I've heard of, but isn't very common, is tunch (between lunch and [afternoon] tea).
     

    CarolSueC

    Senior Member
    USA--English
    How about the following slang words:

    1) brunch - a meal in the middle of the day (not exactly in the middle but very close to it), between breakfast in lunch.

    1) lupper - a meal between lunch and supper.

    How often are these words used? Are they British or American originally?

    Thanks in advance
    I have never heard of "lupper," but "brunch" has been around since 1896, according to Merriam-Webster, and is not slang. In the US many restaurants and hotels offer brunch, especially on Sunday.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Brunch is well-established here.
    It's not equivalent to elevenses, though. Elevenses, and the afternoon equivalent, fourses, is a term for an additional little something to keep body and soul together through the long gap between main meals.
    Brunch (see the WR dictionary entry for brunch which lists Meals: Breakfast, lunch, brunch. Is there a BRUNCH in the evening? brunch) results in one fewer meal in the day because it combines breakfast and lunch.
     

    teksch

    Senior Member
    English - American
    As I thought about this while at a local restaurant, I looked at the menu. The meals offered were broken into three major categories: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the western U.S. almost all menus are written this way. The lunch menu consisted of sandwiches, salads, beverages, and desserts. The lunch offerings were not what would be considered full meals – soup, salad, entrée, and desert. The dinner menu featured larger and more expensive meals.
    Sometimes the term “supper” is used in menus but this word is generally used by restaurants that are trying to portray themselves as being more “homey” A restaurant with an old western theme might use the word “supper” instead of “dinner” – Chuck Wagon Suppers are popular in the west.

    A good definition I heard is that supper (the main meal in the evening) is what you prepare and dinner is what someone else prepares for you.

    It would seem that restaurant owners in the western U.S. (or those who write the menus) have reached an agreement on the meaning of “lunch” and “dinner.”
     

    HighHorse

    New Member
    english
    Supper is regional. I says that because in California, for example, it is rarely used. If it is, it would be construed as meaning dinner.
     

    Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi.
    Thanks to Nunty, I can reach here.:)

    Suppose I ate McDonald's Value-set at noon, and paid $4.00.
    And suppose I ate McDonald's special-set at night, and paid $8.50, at the same day.

    Then the most deluxe meal I took for the day would be McDonald's special-set at night. Because it cost me most for the day.
    Should I call it my dinner, or my supper?
    or may I call it whichever I like?
    or Neither?

    Thank you.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi.
    Thanks to Nunty, I can reach here.:)

    Suppose I ate McDonald's Value-set at noon, and paid $4.00.
    And suppose I ate McDonald's special-set at night, and paid $8.50, at the same day.

    Then the most deluxe meal I took for the day would be McDonald's special-set at night. Because it cost me most for the day.
    Should I call it my dinner, or my supper?
    or may I call it whichever I like?
    or Neither?

    Thank you.
    To quote mjscott's first sentence of the first post: My mother, an Oklahoma prairie girl, said that supper is the larger meal of the day after breakfast. If it's eaten at lunch time, it's breakfast, supper, and dinner. If your larger meal is eaten in the evening, it's breakfast, lunch (or dinner), then supper.

    Nowhere did he mention price, deluxe or special-set in determining meal names. It was all about size. :D

    My own grandparents and great-grandparents from the neighboring and equally flat-as-a-prairie-pancake state of Kansas called the three meals Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. Dinner was the largest meal of the day and took the place of today's Lunch, a word they never used.

    If I were giving advice -- and I think I'm about to -- I would stick with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

    But it's personal advice and you're allowed to ignore it. I haven't read this entire thread, but I plan to real soon. It won't change my mind but I'm sure it will make me hungry. :)
     

    Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you, for your comment, Copyright.

    Sorry, my scenario was not enough.
    Suppose I ate 3 sets of McDonald's value-sets at night.......

    OK. I will change my question.
    Is it worth while to call it a "dinner" when I eat junk food or fast food?
    or Supper?
    or just Snacks? I don't think McDonald's is snacks.
    I myself think that McDonald's is McDonald's, and I can't call it "dinner" or "supper".

    (From my point of view, McDonald's food is junk food or fast food, no matter what it has too-much-calories. )
     
    Last edited:

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you, for your comment, Copyright.

    Sorry, my scenario was not enough.
    Suppose I ate 3 sets of McDonald's value-sets at night.......

    OK. I will change my question.
    Is it worth while to call it a "dinner" when I eat junk food or fast food?
    or Supper?
    or just Snacks? I don't think McDonald's is snacks.
    I myself think that McDonald's is McDonald's, and I can't call it "dinner" or "supper".

    (From my point of view, McDonald's food is junk food or fast food, no matter what it has too-much-calories. )
    To repeat myself with fewer words: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner -- all based on time and nothing else. Forget Supper even though my dear grandmother used it.

    Where did you have dinner?
    At McDonald's.

    Let's have dinner at McDonald's.

    You can have one escargot for dinner and it's still dinner -- just a little meager. Although it was a big deal in the snail's day.
     

    Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    To repeat myself with fewer words: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner -- all based on time and nothing else. Forget Supper even though my dear grandmother used it.

    Where did you have dinner?
    At McDonald's.

    Let's have dinner at McDonald's.

    You can have one escargot for dinner and it's still dinner -- just a little meager. Although it was a big deal in the snail's day.
    Thank you. I got it.:)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Blueberrymuffin, I merged your thread to an older one. Please look at the posts here for the answer to your question. You're welcome to post a follow-up question if the difference is still not clear.

    Nat
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    To repeat myself with fewer words: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner -- all based on time and nothing else. Forget Supper even though my dear grandmother used it.

    Where did you have dinner?
    At McDonald's.

    Let's have dinner at McDonald's.

    You can have one escargot for dinner and it's still dinner -- just a little meager. Although it was a big deal in the snail's day.
    I'm not sure I completely agree. The words are time-based, I agree, (and it is also breakfast, lunch, dinner for me - although the above discussion shows that this isn't the same for everyone) but whether I would consider McDonald's or one escargot to be dinner wouldn't only depend on it being eaten in the evening, but also if I considered it to be my main meal. For example, I might be aware that I will be having dinner with friends very late - say 10pm - and so I might have a McDonald's at 7pm to "keep me going". I wouldn't consider that to be my dinner, just a snack.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    This thread will run and run (and run, and run, and run) folks! As we can see from the many posts, it's a bit of a dog's breakfast! :D
    It depends on all sorts of imponderables and variables such as where you come from, your age, your social class, long-standing family convention, and so forth. In fact, in my experience, it's one of the main conversation subjects at the dinner (or should that be supper?) table.
    For all those baffled learners of English, you can always avoid potential misunderstanding by talking about "the midday meal" and "the evening meal" and ask your hosts/guests what they call it. The perfect ice-breaker. Enjoy your meal!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Wait! I have not had my say yet. :D

    PaulQ’s Guide to Civilised Dining:

    Breakfast = Anything eaten shortly after rising and not later than 11:00hrs.
    Brunch = a late breakfast or an early lunch.
    Lunch = A meal started after midday and before 14:30hrs
    16:01 – 17:29hrs - a gentleman will not eat between these times, nor will he require a lady to.
    Dinner = A meal, usually substantial, usually cooked, started after 17:30Hrs and before 21:00hrs
    Supper = A light meal started not earlier than 90 minutes before going to bed and not earlier than 21:30hrs.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Wait! I have not had my say yet. :D

    PaulQ’s Guide to Civilised Dining:

    Breakfast = Anything eaten shortly after rising and not later than 11:00hrs.
    Brunch = a late breakfast or an early lunch.
    Lunch = A meal started after midday and before 14:30hrs
    16:01 – 17:29hrs - a gentleman will not eat between these times, nor will he require a lady to.
    Dinner = A meal, usually substantial, usually cooked, started after 17:30Hrs and before 21:00hrs
    Supper = A light meal started not earlier than 90 minutes before going to bed and not earlier than 21:30hrs.
    Dinner not served before 17:30 hours?

    Those UK children who have school dinners must very hungry by m'lud's dinner time!

    And if the Duchess of Bedford called, when would you serve afternoon tea?
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Dinner not served before 17:30 hours?

    Those UK children who have school dinners must very hungry by dinner time!
    I suppose orphans, feral children, ragamuffins, and child criminals, at what they laughingly call school, may eat crusts and drink water at any time and call it 'dinner'. I assure you they are not to be relied upon in such serious matters! :D:D
     

    Poland91pl

    Senior Member
    Polish
    This question and the following posts have been added to our comprehensive thread on what we call various meals and when we eat them. :) DonnyB - moderator]
    Hello. When do people usually eat lunch in the UK and the US? in books they usually say they eat dinner at 5.pm. here in Poland we eat it at around 2 3pm
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is a considerable amount of variation. If the main meal is in the evening, it necessarily takes place after people are home from work/school, which would make 5 pm very early (most people don't finish work till about five, and then they need to get home and cook). Six or seven in the evening would be far more likely.

    Midday meals are usually between twelve and two, as tunaafi says. Twelve would be rather early for most people, unless they missed breakfast.

    Either of these could be the main meal of the day. I suspect that about 80% of people in Britain have the main meal in the evening, but there are a significant number who have it in the middle of the say, and of course it is possible to do different things on different days or in different situations..
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I got used to the US Navy's hours -- lunch 1100-1200, supper 1700-1800. Now that I'm retired, though, I'm seldom up before 0900, so I eat lunch around 1400 and supper sometime between 1700 and bed.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hello. When do people usually eat lunch in the UK and the US? in books they usually say they eat dinner at 5.pm. here in Poland we eat it at around 2 3pm
    Which are you asking about In the U.S. "lunch" on work days is around noon and "dinner," the evening meal is usually 6-7 p.m. :confused:
    Your unidentified "books" seem to be "out of whack," as we sometimes say.
    (... and my wife and I had no trouble eating lunch at midday or dinner around 6 p.m. on a great driving trip through Poland a couple of years ago. :))
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    This question and the following posts have been added to our comprehensive thread on what we call various meals and when we eat them. :) DonnyB - moderator]
    Hello. When do people usually eat lunch in the UK and the US? in books they usually say they eat dinner at 5.pm. here in Poland we eat it at around 2 3pm
    Dinner at 5 pm? Where did you hear that? As the others have said there are considerable differences but dinner is generally around 19:00h in the UK. Lunch is normally between 12:00 and 14:00h.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I guess that lunch usually begins sometime between 12:00 and 1:00 for people in white-collar jobs in the US.
    Supper (aka dinner) at home begins around 6:00 or 7:00 or later. It depends on when people get home from work.
    When the shift at a mill or boatyard ends at 3:30 or so, people might eat supper early, maybe around 5:00. At least they used to when I was a kid. In that case, all your meals are skewed early compared to someone with a 9-5 job.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    One group in the U.S. that is famous for eating dinner at 5 pm (or even earlier) is retired people. They don't go to work and don't have to get home after work so they can eat whatever time they want. For large numbers of them, that means around 5 pm. It's sometimes humorously referred to as "old people time". That's not true for all of them, of course.

    Why Do Elderly Parents Eat Dinner So Early? Senior Nutrition

    I would say between 5 and 7 pm is a fairly standard time in the U.S. for most people.
     
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