In parts of the US, supper and dinner are used interchangeably to refer to the evening meal, but elsewhere dinner is the midday meal, akin to lunch, and supper, the evening meal. What do these words really mean?
The word dinner does not necessarily imply the time of day. Depending on where you are, it may mean the midday meal or the evening meal, but it always refers to the main meal of the day. The word dinner comes from the Vulgar Latin word disjējūnāre meaning “to break one’s fast.”
Supper, on the other hand, is associated with the evening. It comes from the Old French word souper meaning “evening meal.” It has traditionally been used in the context of the last meal taken by Jesus before his crucifixion, known as the Last Supper.
So if someone asks you over for dinner, how do you know what time they expect you? That may depend on where you are. In 1828, Noah Webster wrote that “The dinner of fashionable people would be the supper of rustics,” reflecting the prominence of dinner as the term for a midday meal in some rural parts of the country. Regardless of time of day, if you are going over for dinner, you can expect a feast.
More recent data from Google suggest that use of the word supper has been declining since the beginning of the 1900s, while the use of lunch has been increasing. Dinner holds the top spot on the lexical food chain as the most widely used term of the three. Which term do you use most often?
Dinner or supper? Here are a few nice expressions for you with both.
Dinner is served. – It is time to eat dinner. Please come to the table. – Vieni a mangiare, la cena è servita!
to take someone out to dinner – to take someone as one’s guest to a meal at a restaurant – portare qualcuno a cena fuori.
be done like a dog’s dinner – to be completely defeated – essere sconfitti malamente
a dog’s breakfast/dinner – something that has been done very badly – un disastro
done up/dressed up like a dog’s dinner – wearing clothes which make you look silly when you have tried to dress for a formal occasion – non vestirsi adeguatamente per un evento
have done/seen/had more something than somebody has had hot dinners – to have done, seen, had something many times, so that you have had more experience of it than the person you are talking to – essere un esperto in un campo/settore rispetto alle persone con cui stai parlando
dinner basket or breadbasket – the belly; the stomach – lo stomaco
Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper. – It is good to start the day feeling hopeful, but if none of the things you hope for come to pass by the end of the day, you will feel disappointed. (Can be used to warn someone against hoping for something that is unlikely to happen.) – si usa per avvisare qualcuno di non avere false speranze sul fatto che accada un evento improbabile!
shoot one’s supper or breakfast – to empty one’s stomach; to vomit – vomitare
sing before breakfast, you’ll cry before supper – If you wake up feeling very happy, your mood will change before the end of the day – quando ti svegli di buon umore il tuo umore potrebbe cambiare entro la fine del giorno.
sing for your supper – to do something for someone else in order to receive something in return – fare qualcosa per qualcuno in cambio di qualcosa in ritorno
|main meal||pasto principale|
|Last Supper||L’ultima cena|
|to depend on||dipendere da|
|regardless of||senza considerazione per|
|to decline||declinare, diminuire|
|food chain||catena alimentare|