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All tasty meals in English

Were you also taught at school that dinner is lunch and supper is dinner, but now it’s difficult to remember the correct names? Didn’t you know that tea is not only tea or tea drinking, but also something more significant? Is it also difficult for you to imagine that there are at least ten names for meals in English? If you answered yes, read on.

Basic concepts: meal and snack

First, let’s understand the basic terms. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and other meals in English are called meals. A meal is a substantial meal that is given a specific time and place during the day.

The word meal is interesting because it does not have a full equivalent in Russian. Still, “meal” is a rather official, not widespread and too general word. You can find the translation “food” in the dictionary, but it does not always correspond to the context. There is also the option “meal”, which is closest to the meaning of meal, but this is a rare and outdated concept.

Unlike its Russian equivalents, in English the word meal is used everywhere in colloquial speech. That is why it is so difficult to literally translate into Russian such a sentence as He invited me for a meal. To make it sound harmonious, you need to replace “meal” with “lunch” or “dinner,” but the original does not contain information about when this meal will take place. Therefore, I have to rephrase: “He invited me to eat.”

There is also another type of meal in English – snack. In this case, the word is translated not as “snack”, but as “snack”. This is an easy and quick meal between main meals. Unlike meals, snacks include snacks on the go, late-night raids on the refrigerator, popcorn at the cinema, and so on.

The words meal and snack are nouns in English. To form a verb, you need to add to have: to have a meal, to have a snack. The same goes for the names of the meals themselves – breakfast, lunch, dinner and others.

Meal types: sit-down meal and buffet

Usually people do not specify how they have breakfast, lunch or dinner. This applies to holidays, parties, visits and various events. In English-speaking culture, there are two types of meals for such events: sit-down meals and buffets.

A sit-down meal is an analogue of a Russian feast. This is a meal in which guests sit at the table and receive plates of food, while only appetizers are on the table. If such a meal takes place in a restaurant or hotel, you need to pay for each dish.

Buffet is Russian for “buffet” with minor differences. This is a meal during which people approach tables with food, put what they like on their plate, and then eat while standing. This meal has a fixed price, you can eat as much as you like. Buffets are often performed at weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations.


In Old English, breakfast was called morgenemete – that is, morning food, morning food. But gradually the word changed its meaning and began to refer to later meals. There was a need to somehow call the morning meal, and that’s how the word breakfast arose.

The word breakfast has nothing to do with the word fast and does not imply that breakfast is eaten quickly. In fact, this is an abbreviated expression “break the fast,” that is, “break the fast.” According to one version, in the Middle Ages it was customary not to eat anything from the evening of one day until lunch the next. They fasted in the morning for religious purposes. But in practice, people did not always observe fasting and often ate in the morning, thereby breaking the fast.

According to another version, breakfast was called this because at night a person involuntarily observes fasting, since he does not eat anything. It turns out that the first meal of the day is an interruption of the night fast.

It’s interesting that breakfast was originally a verb. For example, you could say I’m breakfasting. Gradually, the word took hold in the language and turned into a stable noun.

After hours of morning work, people took a long break to eat a hearty meal in natural light with the whole family. This meal was called dinner. Over time, dinner moved later and later; in the 17th and 18th centuries they dined later in the evening. So the word dinner gradually came to mean “dinner”.

The origin of this word is unknown: perhaps it comes from the word lump – piece. This was the name for a light meal for which women gathered during the day while their husbands worked. For a long time, this tradition was a female one, although sometimes men would join in on this lunch.

In the 19th century, as industrialization increased, men began working long shifts in factories. At first, they were allowed to take breaks for a quick lunch, which their wives prepared for them at home. But this soon became inconvenient as more and more people worked away from home. Dinner has finally turned into an evening meal – dinner.

But during the day, workers had to eat, and luncheon from a women’s meal turned into a widespread habit. Unlike dinner, it was a light meal, often consisting of food brought from home. This tradition continues to this day. The word luncheon was shortened to lunch, and such concepts as lunchbox and business lunch appeared.

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