Blog/Grammar tips
18 January 2024
3 min read

Dinner vs Supper: Exploring the Differences in Mealtime Terminology

Ever found yourself pondering whether to invite friends over for dinner or supper? It's a common conundrum in the culinary world, and the answer is not just about time but also tradition and culture. In this article, we'll slice through the confusion surrounding "dinner" and "supper," serving up a hearty helping of clarity. So, grab a seat at our table as we delve into the delicious details of these two terms.

The Historical Plate: Dinner and Supper

Dinner: A Meal of Many Meanings

Historically, "dinner" did not always mean an evening meal. In fact, in many cultures, dinner referred to the main meal of the day, eaten around midday. It was a grand affair, especially in aristocratic circles. However, as lifestyles and work schedules evolved, dinner slid down the clock, often landing in the evening.

Supper: The Lighter, Later Alternative

Supper has its roots as a lighter, more informal meal. Traditionally eaten later in the day, supper was seen as a supplemental meal - think of the word "soup," which is often associated with something light. Supper was the meal that wound down the day, often enjoyed in a more relaxed setting.

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Modern Meal Meanings: Dinner vs Supper Today

In contemporary times, the lines have blurred, but distinctions remain.

Dinner - The Main Event

In many households, dinner is now the star of the day's culinary show. It's often the most substantial meal, eaten in the evening. It's a time for families to gather and share their day's experiences or for friends to catch up over a delicious spread.

Example: "We're having a special dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary."

Supper - Casual and Comforting

Supper, while sometimes used interchangeably with dinner, still holds its identity as a lighter, more casual meal. It's often a spontaneous gathering, sometimes just a soup or sandwich, eaten later in the evening.

Example: "Let's have a light supper after the movie."

Cultural Culinary Curiosities

Interestingly, the dinner vs supper debate also has regional flavors. In some parts of the world, dinner is strictly an evening affair, while in others, it's the midday meal, especially on Sundays. Supper remains the wildcard, adaptable and ever-evolving.


Whether it's dinner or supper on your menu, the essence lies in the experience - the joy of food, the warmth of company, and the stories shared around the table. So, whether you're planning a lavish dinner or a cozy supper, the magic is in making mealtime your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is supper more formal than dinner?

Typically, supper is considered less formal than dinner, often being a lighter, more casual meal.

Can dinner and supper mean the same thing?

In many modern contexts, dinner and supper can be used interchangeably, though they traditionally have different meanings.

What time is supper usually eaten?

Supper is generally eaten later in the evening, often after 7 PM.

Is the term supper still widely used?

Supper is still used, though its prevalence varies by region and culture.

Does the term 'supper' have a different meaning in different countries?

Yes, the meaning of supper can vary globally, influenced by cultural and regional dining traditions.

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