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British/American language question

(69 Posts)
tex111 Fri 05-Aug-05 11:14:14

Can someone help me understand the vocabulary when it comes to understanding the various meals in a day. Silly, I know, but it's been bugging me for ages. As I understand it it goes something like this:

Breakfast - early morning meal. Can be simple like cereal or toast or more elaborate like a fry up.

Brunch - around 11.00 and usually more elaborate like eggs benedict or quiche

Lunch - midday meal. Often something cold like a sandwich or salad or something simple like soup but can be a more elaborate hot meal.

Tea - 3.00. Consisting of light sandwiches, scones, cakes, and of course tea.

Dinner - early evening meal around 5.00-7.00. Hot meal, usually meat and two veg and maybe dessert.

Supper - late evening meal, 9.00 or later. Usually something simple like cold meats, cheeses and breads or maybe leftovers.

My confusion comes from things like 'school dinners' - why are they called that when they're the midday meal? And 'Wedding Breakfast' which I've had in the afternoon and consisted of a roast. And I've heard some people refer to their evening meal as 'tea'. I'd like to understand the differences. Are there historical reasons or is there just something I'm missing? Thanks so much for your help.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Aug-05 11:20:03

DH calls lunch 'dinner' up here in Scotland. And refers to the evening meal as 'tea'. 'Supper' is a bit like a late night snack.

BadgerBadger Fri 05-Aug-05 11:23:30

I am perpetually confused by this too! (Quite funny when you take into account that I've lived here for the larger part of my life.

Terms seem to differ between areas and dialect also plays a part, from what I can work out.

AFAIK, breakfast is always breakfast. Brunch is always brunch, supper is always supper. The others seem interchangable. ie, sometimes lunch is referred to as dinner, dinner as tea, etc.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Aug-05 11:24:48

Mmm, brekkie.

katymac Fri 05-Aug-05 11:27:35

Dinner is the main meal of the day and can be served at lunch time or at tea time.

If you have dinner at lunch time it would be followed by a light tea (for children @ 5ish) or by supper (for adults @ 8ish)

If you have lunch for your midday meal then you would have dinner (all together at 6)

But it's all very middle class....no-one sticks to it properly

The Wedding Breakfast is simply the first meal of the wedding rather than egg & bacon

tex111 Fri 05-Aug-05 11:29:12

Ok, katymac. So it sounds like it's more determined by what you eat rather than when you eat it. That makes sense. In the States I would say it's more about the time of day. Interesting.

fqueenzebra Fri 05-Aug-05 11:29:38

and if you have a "hot dinner" for the midday meal, then you probably don't need very much for the evning meal, just a cup of tea + a few bites (hence "tea"). Some people also have a meal after tea, called "supper" just to confuse.

tex111 Fri 05-Aug-05 11:32:03

In Texas we would probably say we had a 'big lunch' rather than use the word dinner but it sounds as if it means the same kind of thing. I feel like dawn is breaking! I get it!

Lacrimosa Fri 05-Aug-05 11:32:37

breakfast cereal or taostthat sort of thing
dinner lunch
tea meal at 6pm
supper if your hungry before bed usually the same as breakfast
thats the way we do it

expatinscotland Fri 05-Aug-05 11:33:23

Same here, lac

crumpet Fri 05-Aug-05 11:35:28

You can also invite friends round for supper in the evening - this would mean that it's intended as an informal meal rather than a full blown dinner party

serenity Fri 05-Aug-05 11:35:29

I always thought supper was just a light evening meal? I can't say that I use the word though, we just have breakfast (sometimes brunch at the weekend, as in late breakfast/early lunch) lunch and dinner. Is it a southern thing or a class thing? I don't know anyone who has dinner at lunchtime iyswim, although I know people do. I'd imagine that you'd have supper or tea if you did have your main meal (dinner) at midday.

So........it would either be brekkie, dinner, tea/supper or brekkie, lunch, dinner?

Actually, thinking about it, a few people I know whose kids have school dinners (so, a hot meal) give them tea after school. We have packed lunches so the dkids have dinner. This is confusing!

Mosschops30 Fri 05-Aug-05 11:36:35

Message withdrawn

serenity Fri 05-Aug-05 11:37:01

sorry, x posted with lots of people saying the same thing!

This is why I lurk rather than post.....

Janh Fri 05-Aug-05 11:37:11

Defo a class thing, serenity.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Aug-05 11:39:21

Mosschops
I'd ask him if he wanted to knuckle sandwich to go w/his tea?

Honestly that's a cheek to say something is 'common' when you're a foreigner, IMO.

tarantula Fri 05-Aug-05 11:39:41

think katymac has explained it quite well. The terms varies by region and also by 'class' (for want of a better word).
So some people have breakfast, dinner and tea
Others breakfast, lunch and dinner et etc.

EG to my Mum dinner is only dinner if you have potatoes (or ocassionaly pasta) with it. A salad would be classed as tea because we would set the table with teacups rather than glasses. And supper to her is a snack and tea before bed whereas to others its a late meal (about 8).

brunch is made up word for late breakfast/early lunch.

tex111 Fri 05-Aug-05 11:40:28

Crumpet, so a 'kitchen supper' would be referring to the informality of the meal rather than what was served or when it was eaten?

expatinscotland Fri 05-Aug-05 11:40:46

Aye you can tell tarantula's Irish there . Gotta have the tatties w/it before it's a proper meal! DH's Nana was like that, God rest her sweet soul.

BarefootMama Fri 05-Aug-05 11:41:10

Where we live 'supper' is dinner for the posh people!

tarantula Fri 05-Aug-05 11:43:15

lol EIS too true. Pasta was a very rare and slightly adventurous meal in our house for years and rice was what you made pudding with

Janh Fri 05-Aug-05 11:43:42

I know posh people who call their evening meal supper, unless it's formal with guests in which case it's dinner. (Informal with guests is still supper! )

acnebride Fri 05-Aug-05 11:43:59

supper is usual evening meal word for us - especially if people are coming round (not often) it shows that it's not going to be a posh do with candles and what not, it's just spag bol.

so that's probably why i usually refer to 'friday night dinner' as we aim to celebrate shabbat more formally.

but if you're going to a ball supper will be the late food you have around 11/midnight, with breakfast in the early hours.

Breakfast literally to break your fast after early mass as it used to be you couldn't eat or drink until after you'd received communion. Sorry, bet you know that already.

Anyone read 'Watching the English' by Katie Fox? Hilarious.

tarantula Fri 05-Aug-05 11:44:20

so whos going to explain the difference between pudding, desert, sweet and afters then?

acnebride Fri 05-Aug-05 11:44:31

xposts Janh! Huzza, I'm posh!

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