supper or dinner, what do you call that meal?

Sonja L. Lanehart lanehart at ARCHES.UGA.EDU
Mon Dec 11 19:54:38 UTC 2000

That distinction of rural vs. urban might hold true in my situation
since I grew up in Houston, Texas and my husband grew up in a small
rural area in southeastern Minnesota. I believe both his parents grew
up on farms and the community his family still lives in is surrounded
by farms.  --SL

>At 2:16 PM -0500 12/11/00, Sonja L. Lanehart wrote:
>>My husband and I have had this discussion before. He is from
>>Minnesota where apparently dinner is what you do at noon and supper
>>is what you do at night. I come from Texas and lunch is what you do
>>at noon and dinner is what you do at night. Now that we have a child,
>>somehow I thought it better that we be on the same page so I use
>>supper now as well for what you do at night though I still use lunch
>>for what you do at noon since that's what they call it the schools
>>he's attended here in Georgia and California.  --SL
>Then there's the cross-cultural lesson that I received as an urban
>child:  in rural areas, I was told, dinner--i.e. the main meal of the
>day--is served at mid-day.  In urban and suburban areas, dinner--the
>main meal--is served in the evening.  (The "other" post-noon meal is
>then called supper and lunch respectively.)   The explanation had to
>do with the idea that the farm workers come back to the house for the
>mid-day meal which has to be big enough to keep them working until
>sundown, while the city folks don't come home until the end of their
>workday.  (That "dinner" really means 'main meal of the day' and is
>not definitionally tied to time of consumption is borne out by the
>fact that the Thanskgiving turkey or Christmas ham or roast may be
>served in the early afternoon as the big holiday DINNER--it would
>never be called 'lunch', since that would falsely entail that there's
>a bigger meal coming later in the day.

Sonja L. Lanehart
Department of English      706-542-2260 (office)
University of Georgia      706-542-1261 (messages)
300 Park Hall              706-542-2181 (fax)
Athens, GA 30605-6205      lanehart at

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