Supper vs. Dinner: What’s the Difference?

In most parts of the United States, supper and dinner are used interchangeably to refer to an evening meal. A lot of people use them as synonyms, but indeed they are not alternative terms. So what do these two terms mean? Let’s find out.

What Does Dinner Mean? 

The word dinner dates back to the late 1200s, which means the main meal of the day. It comes from the old French word “disnar”, which means “breakfast.” Originally, dinner used to be the first meal eaten around noon. It was the biggest meal of the day, and a lighter meal coming after it was called supper. Later on, people started taking more meals before the large noon meal of dinner. Today, dinner is the last, and often largest, meal of the day.

Today, the word dinner as a noun refers to the most substantial meal of the day or assembling of people at a formal event for a meal.

Examples of Using the Word Dinner

  • My mother cooked salmon for dinner, but I’m not too fond of it.
  • Last year, I went to this restaurant for dinner. I got food poisoning.
  • I met her with an old friend at a dinner party.
  • I had beef steak for dinner.
  • After dinner, he had ice cream for dessert.
  • Will you have dinner with me tonight?
  • Dinner is ready, but the guests have not arrived yet.


When Is Dinner?

Dinner refers to the size of a meal, not the time it is taken. As nowadays the largest meal is eaten in the evening, we refer to our evening meal as dinner. However, in old times dinner was taken at noon.

What Does Supper Mean?

The word supper is derived from the Old French word “souper,” which means “evening meal.” Supper is a lighter meal that is taken in the evening. The word has its roots in farming traditions when a large meal is used to take around noon, followed by a lighter in the evening, usually consisting of soup.

In the simplest words, supper is a lighter meal taken in the evening.

Examples of Using the Word Supper

  • The father called sons from the fields for supper.
  • Supper was delicious, but I am still hungry.
  • After supper, she went to her room with a book.
  • I take breakfast at six in the morning and supper at six in the evening.
  • Supper was ready, and the table set.
  • This soup recipe is the best for supper.
  • I will supper after a while.
  • They invited me to come to supper and stay the night.
  • Is it right to eat rice for supper

When is Supper?

As we mentioned above, unlike dinner that doesn’t necessarily refer to time, supper is a light meal eaten in the evening.

How to Remember the Difference Between Dinner and Supper

Today, many people use dinner and supper interchangeably to refer to a large evening meal. However, supper is a less formal term. One easy trick to remember the difference two is, you can remember that dinner is described as a tremendous (something substantial in amount) meal of the day. Both dinner and tremendous words have the letter “d” in their spellings.


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