Dinner is the main meal of the day. 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.
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" is an evening meal consisting of multiple courses, generally three, but often as many as seven. One set of silver flatware made by Tiffany & Co. in the 1890s included thirteen pieces per person, with all the necessary tools for eating a multi-course meal.
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 appetizers. 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, the midday meal is the main meal of the day. Therefore, the evening meal is typically served late, no earlier than 8 p.m. In most cases the evening meal is translated into English as "dinner" from the Spanish "cena", and "comida" or "almuerzo" is translated into "lunch", although this is the main meal of the day.
The American meal timeline is as follows: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Supper, although it is uncommon to consume all five meals in a single day.
In Australia and New Zealand, tea and dinner are synonyms.
DINNER STYLE: Party Animals; after Clothes, Decor and Cleanliness, Now Our Dinner Parties Are under the Experts' Microscope. Hilary Duncanson Finds out How to Behave
Jun 11, 2003; Byline: Hilary Duncanson Dinner parties are supposed to be the height of good taste - out comes the good china and out go...