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Which part of the day is dinner eaten? Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2018 6:33:26 PM
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Where I live, dinner is eaten in the evening. I wonder if what part of the day is dinner eaten by people of other nationalities?

Thanks.
NKM
Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2018 7:37:46 PM

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Here, it's normally breakfast in the morning, lunch in the middle of the day, and dinner (or supper) in the evening.

The distinction between "supper" and "dinner" is rather flexible, but "dinner" is the more formal of the two.



Back when I was a child, "Sunday dinner" — typically roast chicken, mashed potatoes with biscuits and gravy, and some kind of garden vegetables — was a sort of special occasion in our household. It took place in the early part of the afternoon, so the evening meal for that day was a light supper.

leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2018 10:07:09 PM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
Where I live, dinner is eaten in the evening. I wonder if what part of the day is dinner eaten by people of other nationalities?


Even in the English-speaking world it varies a great deal.

What NKM describes is typical of many Americans. Dinner usually takes place at or within several hours of sunset, it includes a sense of gathering of at least the immediate family, and possibly a number of invited friends and colleagues.
srirr
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 1:00:25 AM

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We are non-native speakers of English, and we call it a breakfast in the morning, lunch in the noon (or afternoon) and dinner in the evening. A dinner may be taken any time after sunset. It is usually the last meal of the day. If I take sandwiches at 8.30 pm and full meal at 9.30 pm, I may call sandwiches as evening refreshment and the meal as dinner. If I have my meal at 7.30 pm and do not take anything thereafter, that will be said to be my dinner.
Priscilla86
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 6:27:01 AM

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I think maybe Koh Elaine is asking because, in countries where daylight hours are regular throughout the year (for example in Southeast Asia where I'm from), dinner usually starts at 7 - 7.30pm, when it's considerably dark(er) outside.

When I was younger, in some western movies they'd have dinner at 7 but it was still light outside. As I'd never been to the northern hemisphere and didn't understand the concept of seasons, this used to perplex me.

In Southeast Asia, it's quite convenient to peg dinnertime to the lighting condition outside as daylight is very regular so I guess my question to NKM and leonAzul is, in summer months when daylight is longer, do you still wait for sunset to have dinner? I suppose no, otherwise people in Iceland would never have dinner during midnight sun, right?
K S Venkataraman
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 6:45:01 AM

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Dinner is the main meal of the day. Which it is, depends on one's food habits. Supper is generally the light meal one takes just before going to the bed. Those who do not have time for a leisurely meal during the day and whose main meal is usually taken in the early evening can refer to their main meal as dinner.
Parpar1836
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 10:45:52 AM
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It was also possible for "dinner" to refer to what we now call lunch. Shirley Jackson, in her classic short story, "The Lottery," set in a New England village in what feels like the 19th century, makes a reference to "noon dinner," and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, set in Limerick, Ireland during the war years, refers to "dinner" as being eaten around midday—a working person's main meal of the day.
Islami
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 12:17:33 PM
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I have often noticed people as referring to 'eating dinner'.

Methinks, 'having dinner' or 'taking dinner' or 'dining' is better pharse. IMO

Teachers please speak.
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 12:42:38 PM

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Priscilla86 wrote:


In Southeast Asia, it's quite convenient to peg dinnertime to the lighting condition outside as daylight is very regular so I guess my question to NKM and leonAzul is, in summer months when daylight is longer, do you still wait for sunset to have dinner? I suppose no, otherwise people in Iceland would never have dinner during midnight sun, right?


Some people do, but it varies widely.

In the larger cities where most people work in climate-controlled buildings with artificial light, meal times are rather consistent throughout the year.

There are still quite a few people whose livelihood is more closely tied to the weather, and their entire lifestyles vary with the seasons, including meal times. Especially as one travels further north, the habit of an extended mid-day break becomes more common.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 1:50:29 PM

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Islami wrote:
I have often noticed people as referring to 'eating dinner'.
Methinks, 'having dinner' or 'taking dinner' or 'dining' is better pharse
.

Hello Islami.
On this question, there is a difference between American English and British English - I'm not sure about other areas of the world, though I think Canada and 'the far east' follow American tradition, whereas Africa, India and Australia/New Zealand are more likely to follow British English.
We, in Britain, don't normally "take" a meal when we eat it. We 'have dinner' or 'eat dinner'.
In America, I think 'take dinner' is common.
I don't think many people use 'dining' regularly at all (though some might).

*************
I agree with K S Venkataraman and Parpar.
"Dinner" is most commonly the largest meal of the day, and often is the meal at which the whole family meet.
When I was young (the 1950s and 1960s) we usually had dinner at school (and my father had dinner cooked in a canteen at work) at noon or some time near noon.
This was the big cooked meal of the day. There was also breakfast; tea (a small meal (sometimes just sandwiches, or a salad) after school/work; and supper (very small - maybe just biscuits/cake and cocoa) before bed.

However, some people took sandwiches to work - a 'packed lunch'.
So they had 'lunch' at noon and 'dinner' at home after work (starting any time between 5:30 and 7:30, depending on the work schedule).

"Sunday dinner" was the big meal of the week - and was usually eaten in the very early afternoon (starting about 1pm).

Nowadays, it seems more common for people to have two large meals a day - lunch and dinner, with dinner as the larger one with the family.
The timing depends on work schedules, not lighting.

NKM
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 5:30:31 PM

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Parpar1836 wrote:
It was also possible for "dinner" to refer to what we now call lunch. Shirley Jackson, in her classic short story, "The Lottery," set in a New England village in what feels like the 19th century, makes a reference to "noon dinner," and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, set in Limerick, Ireland during the war years, refers to "dinner" as being eaten around midday—a working person's main meal of the day.

══════════════════════════════════════════════

I remember that my mother used to pack a rather substantial mid-day meal for my father to take to work with him in a "dinner basket". That usage was quite common in those days (middle of the 20th century), which is probably why so many of us grew up thinking of the evening meal as "supper" rather than dinner.

NKM
Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018 5:46:46 PM

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Islami wrote:
I have often noticed people as referring to 'eating dinner'.

Methinks, 'having dinner' or 'taking dinner' or 'dining' is better pharse. IMO

Teachers please speak.

══════════════════════════════════════════════

Not so!

We "eat" or "have" breakfast/brunch/lunch/snacks/dinner/supper. It would be extremely unusual to hear "take" used in this way.

leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:08:47 AM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:

In America, I think 'take dinner' is common.

It sounds common to my American ear in the sense that it sounds vulgar and highfalutin.
Whistle
Drag0nspeaker wrote:

I don't think many people use 'dining' regularly at all (though some might).

From my experience, the only people who use "dine" as a verb are those who prepare advertising for restaurants, eateries, and cruise ship packages.
Whistle

For the moment, I am sharing some of the divergences in connotation of the notion of "dinner"; that doesn't mean we don't share what is emerging from this conversation: that a dinner is more than just a time for ingestion of food, but rather something more socially significant and meaningful.
BobShilling
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:42:19 AM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
When I was young (the 1950s and 1960s) we usually had dinner at school (and my father had dinner cooked in a canteen at work) at noon or some time near noon.
This was the big cooked meal of the day. There was also breakfast; tea (a small meal (sometimes just sandwiches, or a salad) after school/work; and supper (very small - maybe just biscuits/cake and cocoa) before bed. [...0


"Sunday dinner" was the big meal of the week - and was usually eaten in the very early afternoon (starting about 1pm).


It was very similar for me , a southerner. In addition, we sometimes had 'high tea' on Saturdays,a small cooked meal, typically beans/fried egg/sausages on toast rather than the normal bread and butter and jam plus a cake.

The midday meal at state school was always known as '(school) dinner' when I was a pupil and a teacher (1951-1998). Non-teaching staff who supervised pupils in the school canteen were known as 'dinner ladies'. I left England twenty years ago, so cannot claim to be familiar with current terminology.

I had my first 'dinner' (evening meal) when I went to a collegiate university in 1964. It was probably at the same time that my midday meal became 'lunch'.

I think I recall taking 'lunch' with me when I went to infant school, a couple of biscuits to eat in the morning break, though my sister thinks I imagined this.

Romany
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 7:57:37 AM
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I think there's a very small elephant in the room when dinner and lunch are discussed. Still is with some (rather snotty) people.

Calling the midday meal "dinner" used to be regarded as a "working class" (what Americans call Middle Class) thing. Anyone referring to "dinner" as a meal one age during the day, or (horror of horrors!) calling the evening meal "tea" established themselves as working class. While "school dinners" immediately established that one hadn't gone to a "good" school.

All this held in the 4 main English-speaking countries I've lived in.

Nowadays:
the average person doesn't give a damn whether you call it lunch, dinner or a bun-fight.

Except for comedians and playwrights who use the terms as short-hand to indicate a character's social standing.

Even today no Middle or Upper class person would refer to Dinner as anything but the evening meal. But that's down to habit now, not a statement of superiority.

And even among those who still consider it a statement of social standing the actual time of eating is important.

I mean really dahlings, how on earth could anyone consider an evening meal eaten before 7pm ' civilised' - let alone 'dinner '?
Romany
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 7:57:38 AM
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I think there's a very small elephant in the room when dinner and lunch are discussed. Still is with some (rather snotty) people.

Calling the midday meal "dinner" used to be regarded as a "working class" (what Americans call Middle Class) thing. Anyone referring to "dinner" as a meal one age during the day, or (horror of horrors!) calling the evening meal "tea" established themselves as working class. While "school dinners" immediately established that one hadn't gone to a "good" school.

All this held in the 4 main English-speaking countries I've lived in.

Nowadays:
the average person doesn't give a damn whether you call it lunch, dinner or a bun-fight.

Except for comedians and playwrights who use the terms as short-hand to indicate a character's social standing.

Even today no Middle or Upper class person would refer to Dinner as anything but the evening meal. But that's down to habit now, not a statement of superiority.

And even among those who still consider it a statement of social standing the actual time of eating is important.

I mean really dahlings, how on earth could anyone consider an evening meal eaten before 7pm ' civilised' - let alone 'dinner '?
TMe
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 12:25:24 PM

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As per TFD:

din·ner (dĭn′ər)
n.
1.
a. The chief meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday.
b. A banquet or formal meal in honor of a person or event.
c. The food prepared for either of these meals.
2. A full-course meal served at a fixed price; table d'hôte.
Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 8:25:14 PM

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The answer depends entirely on region.
In my neck of the woods, breakfast is the first meal of the day as long as it occurs early. This is true of any day.
On ordinary days, we have lunch during the day and dinner in the early evening.
On Sunday and other days of occasion, we have dinner during the day and supper in the evening.
Either way, dinner is the more substantial meal of the two.

Some people sometimes have a combined breakfast and lunch on Sunday, in a restaurant, which they call brunch. The evening meal is called whatever they prefer.

These are all general rules -- families will label their meals as they see fit.

Don't ask about people who work during the night and sleep during the day...
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2018 11:37:43 PM

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Wilmar (USA) wrote:
Don't ask about people who work during the night and sleep during the day...

Yes - it's now 4:30am, and I've just had my dinner . . .
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2018 10:44:45 AM

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When I was growing up in the Southern Appalachian area, the midday mean was a lunch and the evening meal was supper. Dinner was a special meal eaten on Sunday's after church...Pray
Only fancy folks called supper "dinner". For me, it's still Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper...Not talking
srirr
Posted: Monday, June 25, 2018 1:05:04 AM

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Romany wrote:

I mean really dahlings, how on earth could anyone consider an evening meal eaten before 7pm ' civilised' - let alone 'dinner '?


That can be completely a religious and cultural difference. Jainism is a well known and popular religion in Southeast Asia. It is advisable in Jainism not to eat anything after sunset and before sunrise. The monks and even many laypeople following Jainism follow this practice. The evening meal is timed by the nature and not by the human-made clocks.

In summers, the evening meal may be taken at close to 7 pm, however in winters the time may be before 5 pm.

Parpar1836
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 4:49:42 PM
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Henry King

The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
"There is no Cure for this Disease.

"Henry will very soon be dead."
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

Cried, "Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires..."
With that, the Wretched Child expires.

—Hilaire Belloc
Romany
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 6:23:40 PM
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Good grief Parpar - that really is a blast from the past! I used to recite Belloc when I was a kid - and as soon as I read the first line of your post, I realised that, though I never know what day it is, or where I put my glasses, I still remember it word for word!

Srirr - I was only making a self-parodying joke. The cue is my use of the word "Dahlings". That's how we spell the word as said by someone who is very Upper Class and snobby. Such people would never use any other word than Dinner and judge others who say "tea" or "supper" as I said in a previous post. And Dinner for such people is never eaten before 8 o-clock. I personally never eat before 9 so I was just making fun of myself.

Because I don't make fun of other people's customs or station in life, and regularly express my belief in egalitarianism I had thought it would immediately be obvious I was just playing with words.Sick

Sorry if you thought I was really being mean - as I said: just a joke at my own expense.Boo hoo!

Parpar1836
Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2018 3:40:49 PM
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"Good grief" is typically used to express dismay. I hope that the Belloc verse wasn't a vehicle annoyance?

Too bad that Srirr didn't pick up the humor on your comment. That may be a cultural nuance that might be missed by an ESL speaker. I always enjoy the humor that informs your posts.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2018 5:01:08 PM
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Parpar -

The only place I ever utilise "Good grief" is on this forum - and to me it's more a "Peanuts" thing than anything else. If it was dismay at all it would be because I'm beginning to realise, as I get older, how arbitrary memory often is.Eh?

But I wanted to say how your post cheered me up. Apart from academic writing, my genre is humour/irony. Yet so many posters (not referring particularly to ESL learners, now) misinterpret what I'm saying. Have spent many soul-searching nights wondering if I'm in the wrong profession, after posts being completely misinterpreted yet again on TFD - an actual language site!!Boo hoo!

Was tickled pink to learn that it's not just a few BE or Aussie posters who do understand the way I express myself.Dancing

Onya, mate!



Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2018 3:56:20 PM

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Just so you know it's not just British/American/Aussie/Indian - and definitely not Romany vs the British - the same can occur between people from bits of Britain less than a hundred miles apart.

Parpar's "Henry King" poem reminded me of a TV show (an American one - though everyone appearing in it was very British, including the presenter).
It was an investigation by a couple of archaeologists and 'social history buffs' - connected with Merton College Oxford (which owns the Manor and lands in Lincolnshire which were being investigated).
They found the village named in the Domesday Book (1068) and traced back any records they could find - the earliest being before Alfred's time (ninth century) including original scraps in Latin, Old English and Norse. (Also quite a bit of data on the failed revolution of of the seventeenth century - which explains why so much data is available. When Percy's holdings were confiscated, this Manor was given to Merton college, and the librarian collected every bit of data he could find - which is still filed in the Bodleian Library in Merton.)

Anyway, my main point was that this village (and a lot of Lincolnshire) drifted back-and-forth between the Kingdom of Wessex (Saxon) and the Danelaw (Norse). First the Anglo-Saxons settled in the original Roman/Briton village, then the 'Vikings', then the Anglo-Saxons, then the Normans . . .

They did gene analysis on all the villagers (they were all keen and interested) and found that (despite a thousand years or so of intermarriage) there are still families there who are recognisably genetically Angles - and have names derived from Old English, Acton, Reid, Thorpe, etc - and other families who are genetically Norse - and have names derived from old Norse, Osborne, Kettel, Seagrim, etc.

The dialect from that area is noticeably based on more Norse words than any other dialect south of Northumbria, and on more Anglo-Saxon words than any dialect north of Essex, really.
Parpar1836
Posted: Monday, July 9, 2018 1:52:31 PM
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We've been having fun on this thread, eh?

Glad to know that my post cheered you a bit, Romany. Good grief! Words have such power.

Forgot to mention (since NKM noted it) that Frank McCourt described bringing a dinner pail to the boarder who rented a room from his irascible grandmother, and who was working on a construction site (IIRC; I've lost my copy of that book). There was cabbage and corned beef or ham, freshly cooked and hot. Before Frank arrived at his destination, he opened the pail, and took a taste of the food. Being chronically underfed, he succumbed to his hunger and devoured the whole thing. He then proceeded to the site with the empty pail and gave the boarder the feeble excuse that a dog had eaten his dinner. The boarder angrily replied something like, "Then what's that glob of cabbage doing on your jumper [sweater]?" He demanded that Frank return to his grandmother to get a replacement dinner, because he was "falling down with the hunger." Frank returned home, got slapped around by his grandmother, who was pretty furious, and brought a cold replacement, intact, to the boarder. After that, he had to bring the dinner pail and wait there until the boarder finished eating, and this guy, Frank recalled, was not the sort of person who would ask if he was hungry.
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