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Why dinner is called supper?
Aug 30, 2019 12:38 AM
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In the United States, names and customs vary; but, usually, the word "lunch" means a midday meal, "supper" means an evening meal, and "dinner" is the main meal of the day. That is, "dinner" is the biggest meal of the day, and could be eaten at midday, in the evening, or any time in between. Take a moment to look at this famous illustration by Norman Rockwell, "Freedom from Want:" https://www.nrm.org/wp2016/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Freedom-from-Want_3_5.jpg Anyone who grew up in the United States recognizes this as "Thanksgiving dinner." You can see from the bright daylight streaming in through the window that this is happening in the middle of the day--possibly 2 pm. But regardless of the time, this is "Thanksgiving dinner" because it is a huge meal. You would never, ever, ever refer to it as "Thanksgiving lunch" or "Thanksgiving supper."
August 30, 2019
Firstly, it's more natural to ask "Why is dinner called supper?". Secondly, it's only called that by some people. I certainly don't use that word, and most people in my country don't use it either. And why? I don't know. According to a couple of dictionaries it came from old French, but one said it was from 'sup', and one said it was from 'soper'. I don't think 'why' is often a useful question.
August 30, 2019
Both The Same Thing , But Don't Know Why
August 30, 2019
One thing to add all the other excellent answers. Yes, 'dinner' and 'supper' do mean the same thing, with one difference: 'Supper' is always an evening meal; 'dinner' may, occasionally, refer to a daytime meal. As Dan Smith pointed out, 'dinner' is the main meal of the day. These days, we usually have our main, most substantial and most leisurely meal in the evening, when our working day is over. In the past, this was the exception rather than the rule. In the days when most people were agricultural workers, people got up very early and used the daylight hours to work. By midday, they were tired and hungry, and needed to have a large meal (dinner) around noon. In the evening, they would generally have something much lighter - often just soup and bread (hence the name 'supper') before an early bedtime. It's also worth bearing in mind how difficult and expensive it was to light homes in the evening before the advent of domestic electricity supplies. Until the early twentieth century, only the upper classes had the time or the means to enjoy a leisurely main meal in the evening. During the day, wealthier people would have a lighter lunch at noon and another lighter cold meal known as 'tea' in the late afternoon. These days, dinner - as in main meal - generally means an evening meal, although there are a few exceptions. There's Dan's example of Thanksgiving Dinner, and then there's also Christmas Dinner: a large celebratory meal generally eaten during the day. Another point worth mentioning is that in some parts of the UK and Ireland, especially in more northerly and working-class areas, people still refer to the midday meal as 'dinner' and the evening meal served at home as 'tea'.
August 30, 2019
There are regional differences. In eastern Canada, dinner is the mid-day meal and supper is the evening meal. In francophone Canada, le dîner is the mid-day meal and le souper is the evening meal (which is different from modern usage in France). In western Canada, lunch is the mid-day meal and dinner is the evening meal. Supper is another name for the evening meal, but is rare.
August 31, 2019
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