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Dinner vs Supper

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General | Posted on 14-03-2008

For years my wife and I have argued about Dinner vs Supper.  Believe it or not depending on which part of the country you are in saying dinner can actually mean lunch.  My wife thought I was just stupid for years when I would argue with her that I had heard people use dinner to mean lunch.  I searched the Internet over for proof that I wasn’t crazy and finally found something.

image

Standard Version

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Southern Version

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Supper

The word “supper” typically means the last mean of the day but for whatever reason it isn’t used much outside of the South.  I lived in Michigan for eight years and cannot recall a single time I ever heard someone say supper.  The word “dinner” means the main meal of the day.  Obviously this is more vague and since you are not suppose to eat a heavy meal before going to bed I think this is why people have adopted saying dinner to also mean lunch.  Dinner is usually eaten in the evening, but it can be eaten at lunchtime.

To fix the world’s confusion I think this is what we should do.

My Version

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Supper

This solves the problem of even using the word dinner and avoids confusion since supper is the last meal of the day.  Logical, easy, no confusion.

  • freedixie

    With “Reconstruction” came the pollution of our good Southern culture. In southeast Alabama where I grew up, it was always “breakfast, dinner, supper”. This is how it was until people adopted the Yankee version of “lunch” for the noonday meal instead of “dinner”.

  • dinner guest

    i agree im hard headed about breakfast lunch and dinner !

  • dinner guest

    thats the last supper so no more use of that word! breakfast lunch and dinner!!!

  • Billy Dee

    If you follow the Hobbit dietary names you cant go wrong Breakfast , Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, then yes Supper. and Midnightsies for the fat hobbits

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3JIOAW6UWOJ77G7SP335LX753I Betty

    In the “old” days in Wisconsin, if you lived out in the country it was breakfast, dinner, supper.  However, I myself grew up in the country and always considered dinner and supper to both mean the 5-6pm meal….dinner just sounded more formal.  So I guess times might be changing.

  • Glennc

    Yep,
    Some of my family is from South Louisiana.  We’ve always used your version.

    We’re having Easter dinner at lunchtime this year.  Last year we had Easter dinner at suppertime.

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    Great website I agree with your point of view of this article.  THanks

  • Bardpkg

    Breakfast - Dinner – Supper ? Breakfast is around 6am, Dinner is around 12 noon  Lunch is around 2pm if you missed Dinner,   Supper is eaten around 6 pm and for some people Breakfast is eaten whenever they roll your butt out of bed, usually anytime of day or night. Remember it was THE LORD’S LAST SUPPER not dinner. and it was eaten at 6pm. i’m hungry, where the food

  • Transitions2

    I think the standard across both Canada and the US is breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Transitions2

    wow, sounds like a chip on someone’s shoulder to me…ouch

  • Bloos_magoos

    It’s Dinner because you dine on things, and have a dining room.  Nobody that is cool says supper.  It’s dinner.

  • danna

    Couldn’t resist this long-running conversation. I’m from Texas originally and have lived in the Washington DC area for 20 years now. I use dinner and supper interchangeably, both referring to the last meal of the day (not counting “midnight snacks.” So – breakfast, lunch, and dinner/supper. Although on holidays, it’s always dinner, the BIG meal.

  • Fosterrk

    In northern Minnesota where I grew up, on most days the three meals were Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. Many workers took their noon meals to work in a dinner bucket (not a lunch bucket), and came home for supper in the evening. I always lived near the schools I attended and went home for dinner around noon. Most of the bused-in kids ate dinner out of a dinner bucket (or pail). A lunch was a light meal anytime after breakfast. It was usually simple, like a sandwich and a glass of milk, but more of a meal than a snack. So you could have a lunch for dinner.

    Special meals such as on holidays, anniversaries and so on, were dinners whether at noon or in the evening.

    The main ethnic groups where I grew up were Norwegian, Swedish, Finish, British, German, French and Italian. Because of the different backgrounds, I suppose some families had their own way of referring to the meals within the family. But I think Breakfast, Dinner and Supper was the terminology in general use.

    I have not spent much time in my hometown area for many years. People change the way they talk under various influences like radio, TV and the movies. But I think at least the people living in small towns probably continue to refer meals as I did as a kid.

  • L-whiting

    I am from New England and we have always called it “Suppah”  :)

  • http://www.best-hostings.in/ Best web hosting

    We never used supper word for dinner, thanks for this information and we also use Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • JPX

    I was born in Michigan and raised by parents from the south so I use both supper and dinner to refer to an evening meal. I use the term “dinner” when referring to a date, a special occasion, when eating out at a restaurant, or when even complementing someone for preparing a meal, i.e. “Thank you, dinner tasted great.” When informal, such as eating with my parents or siblings we would say supper especially when eating at home i.e. “What’s for supper?” or “I’ll cook supper.” My father would sometimes call the midday meal dinner especially on Sundays but I have always referred to it as lunch. Thanks!

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  • Jpkaster

    Breakfast Lunch and dinner,
    every meal’s a winner
    seven days a week, 24 hours a day,
    Remember the embers.

    See the movie “Fargo” that (the embers) is where they dined.

    anyway . In Minnesota in farm country, it is breakfast, dinner, supper.

    good luck

  • Anonymous

    I’m from Illinois. We always called the evening meal supper. Large holiday meals were called dinner.
    Now, I tend to always use dinner because it seems like the dominant word.

  • Anonymous

    I know I’m joining the conversation late, but this topic came up between my roommates and I, yesterday so of course I had to do a search. Identical to Leonard, I also grew up in rural Minnesota and we’d have “Breakfast, Dinner and Supper.” Oh, how I remember those “fancy” Supper Clubs, stuck out in the prairie at some crossroad junction, neon lights blazing a path to their welcoming doors. :) White linens, heavy china, water goblets with feet…these were all so exotic to a little girl from the farm.

    And to those that say “supper” is a clunky word, it was called “The Last SUPPER”, not the “Last DINNER!”<<<<< LOL

  • Anonymous

    I am from Arkansas, and I have always heard and /or said breakfast, dinner, and supper.

  • Anonymous

    Supper is an ugly word. I prefer Dinner. I am also a yankee.

  • Anonymous

    I’m from North Carolina and now live in South Carolina. Meals always have been breakfast, dinner and supper. And always will be. I catch some flack about it. But I’m hard headed about it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m originally from New Brunswick Canada and we use Breakfast, dinner and Supper.
    I lived in Calgary Alberta for a while, and when i used the term “supper”, i got looked at as if i just walked out of the dark ages. lol
    I now live in British Columbia where it’s potpourri on that subject.

  • Anonymous

    I’m from Saskatchewan, Canada…
    Here most people say “Breakfast, Dinner, Supper”. If you say “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner” folks here know you don’t come from here and you instantly label yourself as pretentious and you either come from Ontario or any other large Canadian city anywhere in the country.
    People in Saskatchewan hate people from big cities… yikes.

  • http://keithelder.net/blog/Default.aspx Anonymous

    @Jennifer

    Here here! Even you point out some other rules that apply like if you are going out or not going out.

    Cheers,

    -Keith

  • Anonymous

    Im from the south..
    We have Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper!
    Unless we go out to dinner or cook dinner for extended family and friends. :)
    So if we go out to eat at a nice place where people are served then it is called dinner.
    Then its Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner :) but either way dinner is usually NOT use for the meal at noon and is only used at noon if it is going to be the biggest meal of the day! :)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Guys, I’m from Newfoundland in Canada. Here we use Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. During my stay a few years back in (Toronto) Ontario, I said something to a co-worker about Dinner which confused him, he thought I meant a meal around 5pm-6pm…. I meant noon. So their daily meals are in this order : Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

  • Anonymous

    Being from Maine, we had breakfast, dinner, and supper. And if it was late in the day say 4:00 or 5:00 PM, and if we went out to a restaurant, that was also considered dinner.
    Here in Virginia, it’s always breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a midwesterner. We have Breakfast, Lunch, and sometimes Dinner, sometimes Supper. The words are interchangable to me. My farming grandparents call the noon meal dinner all the time, however.

  • Anonymous

    @george

    And you trust corporate america to be correct? Give me a break.

    I have been to plenty of traditional local restaurants in the South where they say supper.

  • Anonymous

    Then why do Restaurants have a “Dinner” and “Lunch”Menu? I have yet to see one for supper.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in a farming town in western Ohio. It was breakfast, lunch and, supper for us. When I moved away, I started saying dinner instead of supper, but as I get older, I’ve started to revert back

  • Anonymous

    My granddaughter has this little argument. I call it supper and she calls it dinner and of course she has to be right. We are from Michigan. Supper means good food and comfort, and family or friends or both.

  • Anonymous

    In the midwest, according to an etiquette class I took in college, the proper terms are: Monday – Saturday, you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Sunday, you have breakfast, dinner, and supper. But what does it matter, as long as you have friends or family over to eat with you?

  • Anonymous

    As a guy who was born and raised in the South, My family has always used the terms BREAKFAST, DINNER, and SUPPER. It all depends on where you are from and where you grew up as. However I will always refer to my meals as Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper!!!

  • Anonymous

    Having moved from an Louisville KY to southern Minnesota, I’ve found that this is much more common in Minnesota. In general, people who grew up in a rural setting tend to use the word supper.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in rural Minnesota. It was always Breakfast, Dinner, Supper in that order.
    If we went out to eat at a fancy place it was to a Supper Club for the evening meal. Supper Clubs were open evenings only. We would sometimes eat at a Cafe or Restaurant as those places served meals all day long. There you could have Breakfast, Dinner or Supper. Johnny Cash had a song about, “come home come home it’s Supper time, the shadows lengthen fast…………” Supper in that case was evening.
    Never heard of a Dinner Club. When we went to school we carried a Lunch Box or Dinner Pail.

  • http://keithelder.net/blog/ Anonymous

    I had no idea I would have been considered Posh :)

    (from wikipedia)
    “Sometimes, there is some implication of ostentation or snobbery in such a description, and it is usually used in a derogatory fashion. In the UK it often refers to people who have a higher social background and associate themselves with members of the upper class or speak according to received pronunciation.”

  • http://michaelkimsal.com/blog Anonymous

    Just got the update from Lesley – “dinner” is generally used by “working class” people to mean lunch.

    “Working class” people – breakfast/dinner/tea

    Most people use breakfast/lunch/dinner

    Posh people – breakfast/luncheon/supper

  • http://michaelkimsal.com/blog Anonymous

    A lot of people in the UK use “dinner” to mean lunch as well. When we’re watching shows people will say “see you at dinnertime” and they generally mean noonish (lunch). “Dinner” might be a regional UK thing as well – I can’t say for sure.

  • http://mattstark.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    So funny Keith … my girlfriend and I were arguing about this last week because I enjoy late night snack / meal at around 10pm … I call this supper and we have argued about it ever since …

    For some reason some people consider these late night meals supper … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supper

  • http://jrwren.wrenfam.com/ Anonymous

    I’m there with ya too Keith.

    But I use the word dinner when it is the biggest meal of the day. So if we site down for sunday dinner at noon, 1, 2 or 3 pm. It is dinner. But on saturday when we were just running around and didn’t have a big meal. That was lunch.

    We called it supper when I was growing up in Michigan. But I am the child of 2 people who grew up on farms. North Indiana farmers call it supper.

  • http://www.chrisrisner.com/blog Anonymous

    Here’s a better idea: breakfest, lunch, dinner.
    The south lost, the north won. Move on ya southern bastards.

  • http://www.sullivansoftdev.com/blog Anonymous

    I’m right there with ya, Keith. I use that very same combination.