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Part of the Meals series
Common meals
Breakfast · Brunch · Lunch · Tea · Dinner · Supper
Components & courses
Amuse-bouche · Appetizer · Cheese · Dessert · Drink · Entrée · Entremet · Fruit · Main course · Nuts · Salad · Side dish
Related concepts
Banquet · Buffet · Cuisine · Eating · Etiquette · Food

Supper is the name for the evening meal in some dialects of English - ordinarily the last meal of the day. Originally, in the middle ages, it referred to the lighter meal following dinner, which until the eighteenth century was invariably eaten as the midday meal.

The term is derived from the French souper, which is still used for this meal in Canadian French, Swiss French and sometimes in Belgian French. It is related to soup. It is also related to the German word for soup, Suppe. (The OED, however, suggests that the root, sup, retains obscure origins)[1]

Other meanings

In England, whereas "dinner", when used for the evening meal, is fairly formal, "supper" is used to describe a less formal, simpler family meal, but also the fairly formal variety in others. In working-class British homes, as in New Zealand and Ireland, "tea" is used for the evening meal. In parts of the United Kingdom, supper is a term for a snack eaten after the evening meal and before bed, usually consisting of a warm, milky drink and British biscuits or cereal, but can include sandwiches.

It is common for social interest and hobby clubs that meet in the evening after normal dinner hours to announce that "a light supper" will be served after the main business of the meeting. In New Zealand it is similar – generally cake and tea/coffee served later in the evening, particularly when people have visitors.

In most parts of Canada, "supper" and "dinner" are considered synonyms. In some areas either term may be rarely used. It is typically served between 6pm and 8pm. The only real requirement is it must be eaten after lunch, and must use a plate.

In rural areas of the United States Upper Midwest dinner is a larger noon-time meal, and supper is a lighter evening meal and similar to eating customs in northern Europe where most of the inhabitants originate from. Supper is the last of three to five daily meals: breakfast, (morning lunch), dinner, (afternoon lunch or "coffee") and supper. The main meal is between 11.30am and 1pm. Supper is usually lighter and often consists of bread with cold meat, cheese, soup, salads, fried potatoes, egg dishes and / or dairy products. The decline of typical Midwestern farm culture and urbanization of American language and habits has led to a change in Midwestern eating habits in the past thirty years. Supper is still usually considered lighter fare and a more casual setting, and may be served before a usual dinner time so that evening activities may be unaffected.

In Saskatchewan, and much of Nova Scotia, in Canada, "supper" means the main meal of the day, usually served in the late afternoon, while "dinner" is served around noon. "Dinner" may be used in some areas, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, only for special meals, such as "Thanksgiving Dinner" or "Christmas Dinner", while the noon meal is "lunch" and the evening meal "supper". For harvest meals put on by churches and other community organizations, the term used is "Fowl Supper" (features turkey) or "Fall Supper", never "dinner".

In Ireland, a "chicken supper" is a meal of chips, gravy, onions, peas and chicken breast.

Similarly in Scotland and perhaps elsewhere in the United Kingdom, such as in Ulster Scots, a fish supper is a portion of fish and chips. The word is used also as a modifier in this way for a range of other similar meals, such as a "sausage supper", "pastie supper", "haggis supper" and indicates the addition of chips.

In Germany supper is called Abendessen (evening meal) or Abendbrot (evening bread). The main meal ("Mittagessen" or dinner) is usually at noontime. Supper is generally eaten between 5.30pm and 8.30pm. In Poland supper is called kolacja, the meal is usually taken from 6pm to 9pm. The main meal (obiad) is usually at afternoon. In Germany as in Poland a variety of breads and rolls are served at supper. Cold meats, sausages, various sorts of ham, cheese, pickles, tomatoes, and other sliced vegetables are served with the bread. Usually one drinks water, fruit juices, beer or an everyday wine with this meal. In Poland Christmas Eve's supper is taken at evening on 24th of December, and traditionally contains 12 dishes.

In Portugal, Spain, Latin America, Asia and the Arab World, supper may be taken as late as right before sleep.

In the Philippines, dinner, in contrast with supper, is taken past noon (4pm-7pm), hence termed "Hapunan" from "hapon" meaning "noon", it is usually the formal-heavy meal, while supper is usually taken night-time (8pm-10pm), likewise termed "Gabihan" from "gabi" meaning "evening or night", is usually a casual-light meal, before sleeping.

In Singapore, "dinner" refers to the first evening meal, while "supper" refers to the meal taken later in the evening after dinner, usually between 9PM and midnight.


  1. ^ OED Online, Accessed 31 October 2007

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the principal meal of the day among the Jews. It was partaken of in the early part of the evening (Mk 6:21; Jn 12:2; 1Cor 11:21). (See LORD'S SUPPER.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)


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