Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Do You Call It?

I'm often a guy who likes to roll with the punches. When I have differences with someone, I can easily chalk that up to differences in personality and preference and be done with it.

There is a guy at work though, who won't let this one issue slide by like that. Every time someone refers to their evening meal as "dinner" he corrects them (always in a joking manner), pointing out that he believes it is called "supper". For a while we've simply gone back and forth about what it is called, and the discussion usually ends with the following argument: "What was the Jesus' final meal called?" And of course everyone knows it is called the Last Supper. This is supposed to be the nail in the coffin of any argument to the contrary.

This discussion has been going on intermittently since I started working here a year ago. I finally decided to put the issue to rest today.

I looked up the definition of the words, "lunch", "dinner" and "supper" and compared them. Here is the email I sent to the six people in the office who are most often involved in the discussion:

Turns out, what the meal is called depends on how big it is. If the meal at midday is the largest, main meal of the day then that meal is called dinner, if it isn’t the large main meal then its just lunch. If the meal in the evening is the largest, main meal then that meal is called dinner, if it’s a light meal then its supper.

din·ner (dĭn'ər) Pronunciation Key

The chief meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday.
A banquet or formal meal in honor of a person or event.
The food prepared for either of these meals.
A full-course meal served at a fixed price; table d'hôte.

lunch (lŭnch) Pronunciation Key

A meal eaten at midday.
The food provided for a midday meal.

sup·per (sŭp'ər) Pronunciation Key

A light evening meal when dinner is taken at midday.
A light meal eaten before going to bed.
A dance or social affair where supper is served.

So dinner is whichever meal is the largest of the midday or evening meal. I think that explanation makes perfect sense, but I suspect that most people simply called each meal one thing or another based solely on the time of day.

What do you guys call your midday and evening meals?