AskDefine | Define dinner

Dictionary Definition



1 the main meal of the day served in the evening or at midday; "dinner will be at 8"; "on Sundays they had a large dinner when they returned from church"
2 a party of people assembled to have dinner together; "guests should never be late to a dinner party" [syn: dinner party]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • italbrac UK: /ˈdɪnə/, /"dIn@/
  • italbrac US: , /ˈdɪnɚ/, /"dIn@`
  • au
  • Rhymes with: -ɪnə(r)
  • Hyphenation: din·ner


  1. The main meal of the day, often eaten in the evening.
  2. A meal given to an animal.
    Give the dog its dinner.
  3. A midday meal .
  4. A formal meal for many people eaten for a special occasion.

Usage notes

  • There are differences in usage according to the social class of the speaker. Working-class and lower-middle-class speakers in Britain, for example, are more likely to refer to the midday meal as "dinner" and the evening meal as "tea" rather than "supper".


main meal of the day
  • Bosnian: večera
  • Cantonese: 晚飯 maan5faan6
  • Danish: middag
  • Dutch: avondeten, avondmaaltijd, avondmaal, eten
  • Filipino: hapunan
  • Finnish: illallinen
  • French: dîner italbrac France, souper italbrac Belgium
  • German: Abendessen
  • Greek: δείπνο (deípno)
  • Hungarian: vacsora
  • Irish: dinnéar
  • Italian: cena
  • Japanese: (, yūshoku)
  • Kurdish:
    Kurmanji: şîv
  • Latvian: pusdienas f|p
  • Mandarin: 晚饭 (wănfàn); 晚餐 (wăncān)
  • Russian: ужин
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: вечера
    Roman: večera
  • Slovene: večerja
a meal given to an animal
  • Finnish: ruoka
  • German: Futter
midday meal
  • Danish: middag
  • Dutch: middageten, middagmaaltijd, middagmaal, lunch
  • Finnish: lounas, päivällinen
  • French: déjeuner
  • German: Mittagessen
  • Greek: γεύμα (gévma)
  • Hebrew:
  • Hungarian: ebéd
  • Irish: dinnéar
  • Italian: pranzo
  • Japanese: (, chūshoku)
  • Latvian: pusdienas f|p
  • Russian: обед
a formal meal
  • Dutch: dinee
  • Finnish: illallinen, päivällinen
  • Greek: γεύμα (gévma)
  • Irish: dinnéar
  • Japanese: (, seisan)
  • Slovene: večerja

Extensive Definition

Dinner is the main meal of the day, eaten at midday or in the evening. The meal normally consists of a combination of cooked, or sometimes uncooked, proteins (meat, fish or legumes), with vegetables, and/or starch products like rice, noodles, or potatoes.
The word "dinner" comes from the French word dîner, the "chief repast (Meal) of the day", ultimately from the Latin disiunare, which means to break fast (as in the English word "breakfast"). A dinner can also be a more sophisticated meal, such as a banquet.

Dinner customs around the world

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, dinner traditionally meant the main meal of the day. Because of differences in custom as to when this meal was taken, dinner might mean the evening meal (typically used by upper class people), or the midday meal (typically used by working class people, who describe their evening meal as tea). Vestiges of the English class system remain in the choice of word for the evening meal - a person with upper-class antecedents might use neither "dinner" nor "tea" but, confusingly, "supper" for a less formal meal (which people in the North use to refer to a hot, often milky, drink such as cocoa or hot chocolate and biscuits, taken immediately before retiring for the night).
Large formal evening meals are invariably described as dinners (hence, also, the term dinner jacket which is a form of evening dress).
School dinners is a British phrase for school lunches – reflecting the fact that such school meals were originally provided chiefly for the children of the working class, who typically had their main meal in the middle of the day – and women working in school canteens are generally known in the UK as dinner ladies (however, if a pupil brings his or her food from home, it is a packed lunch).
Ambiguity can be avoided by using lunch for the midday meal.
A more formal definition of "dinner", especially outside North America, is any meal consisting of multiple courses. The minimum is usually two but there can be as many as seven. Possible courses are:
(after this it is customary to serve coffee, or brandy and cigars after the Loyal Toast)
In French, entrée means entry, admission. L'entrée (singular) or les entrées (plural) are the appetisers. In Great Britain, entrée may be used for the same thing but the term starters is more commonly used. In Australia, entrée is commonly used instead of appetizers or starters. Although it was originally one of the earlier courses in North America also, it is now used for the main course. OED lists it as the main course, but gives an additional British English meaning: a ready-made dish served between the fish course and the main course.
Dinner is generally followed by tea or coffee, sometimes served with mint chocolates or other sweets, or with brandy or a digestif. When dinner consists of many courses, these tend to be smaller and to be served over a longer time period than a dinner with only two or three courses. Dinners with many courses tend to occur at formal events such as dinner parties or banquets.
This formal version of the meal is generally served in the evening, starting at some time between 7.30 and 8.30 (in the Netherlands, however, typically at 6). It may be served at midday or shortly afterwards; this tends, however, to be more typical of Scotland than of other countries. In Spain and Portugal, where lunch is eaten relatively late, dinner is typically served late in the evening, no earlier than 8 p.m.

Australia, Canada, and United States

In Australia and most parts of the United States and Canada, dinner is the evening meal served around 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. In some regions, such as the southern or rural mid-western United States, the Atlantic provinces, parts of Saskatchewan, and Quebec, the evening meal is called supper (souper in Quebec), and dinner (dîner) refers to the noon meal, which itself would be called lunch in most parts of the United States and Canada. In the Southern United States, the main meal of the day is called Dinner, whether taken at noon or in the evening. On farms it was traditionally taken at noon. If Dinner, the main meal of the day, is at noon, the evening meal is called Supper. If Dinner, the main meal of the day, is in the evening the noon meal is called Lunch. Mainly in Australia, tea and dinner are synonyms.


External links
dinner in German: Abendessen
dinner in Esperanto: Vespermanĝo
dinner in Spanish: Merienda
dinner in French: Dîner
dinner in Japanese: 夕食
dinner in Norwegian: Middag
dinner in Polish: Obiad
dinner in Russian: Обед
dinner in Simple English: Dinner
dinner in Thai: อาหารมื้อเย็น
dinner in Chinese: 晚餐

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Kaffeeklatsch, TV dinner, alfresco meal, ball, banquet, barbecue, blowout, breakfast, brunch, buffet supper, clambake, cocktail party, coffee break, coffee klatch, collation, cookout, costume party, diner, dinner party, donation party, elevenses, entertainment, feast, festival, festivity, fete, fish fry, garden party, hen party, high tea, hot luncheon, house party, house-raising, housewarming, junket, lawn party, lunch, luncheon, mash, mask, masque, masquerade, masquerade party, meat breakfast, party, petit dejeuner, picnic, regale, shindig, shindy, shower, smoker, spread, stag, stag party, supper, surprise party, tea, tea break, teatime, tiffin, wiener roast, wienie roast
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