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Dinner or Supper: What Does Your Family Call the Last Meal of the Day?

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“What’s for dinner?” “What time will supper be ready?” Here in Texas, you’re liable to hear either word used interchangeably when referring to the last (and typically largest) meal of the day. But have you ever wondered why some people call it dinner and some call it supper and where the two terms originated?

Supper Originated in Farming Communities

Dinner or Supper: What Does Your Family Call the Last Meal of the Day?

Photo: Pexels.com

Supper is a term that grew out of farming communities. According to the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, the word supper comes from the term “to sup.” In farming communities, it was commonplace to have a pot of soup cooking all day. In the evening, after the work was done, folks would gather around “to sup,” or to eat soup. Hence, the word “supper” was born to describe this evening meal in farming communities.

Interestingly enough, this long-awaited soup was usually a smaller, lighter meal than the meal served at midday in communities of hardworking farmers. Since workers needed lots of sustenance to do all of the heavy lifting on the farm, the midday meal (typically referred to as “dinner”) was the biggest, heartiest of the day.

Is the Midday Meal Dinner or Lunch?

Dinner or Supper: What Does Your Family Call the Last Meal of the Day?

Photo: Pexels.com

As for the origins of the word “dinner,” the French used this word (or more specifically “disner”) to describe their first meal of the day. In fact, in medieval England, “dinner” was served beginning about 9 a.m. until the early afternoon. In Paris, dinner was pushed back to the 4 or 5 o’clock hour, where now, it’s customary for dinner to be served much later in the evening in many of the bustling cities in Europe.

While some people still refer to the midday meal as dinner, it’s most commonly called lunch in modern America. The term “lunch” is a relatively new word though, originating in the 1500s. Lunch is a shortened version of the word “luncheon,” which means “a hunk of something.” This is notable because during the middle ages, a typical midday meal would consist of a hunk of bread or cheese.

Perhaps our Ancestors were onto Something

Dinner or Supper: What Does Your Family Call the Last Meal of the Day?
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