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Difference between dinner or supper

dinner or supper

When it comes to the terms dinner and supper, both refer to meals but are used in different contexts depending on cultural, regional, and personal preferences. This article aims to clarify the differences and specifics of these commonly used terms.

Quick Facts Table

Primary TimeEvening, the main meal of the dayEvening, often lighter meal
OriginMiddle EnglishOld French (souper)
UsageFormal and informalMore informal, traditional
RegionWidely used globallyMore common in UK, some US regions

Difference Between Dinner OR Supper

Definition of Dinner

Dinner refers to the main meal of the day, traditionally eaten in the evening. In modern times, the term has become flexible, often used to describe a significant meal at any time of the day, especially when it involves multiple courses or is eaten in a formal setting.

Definition of Supper

Supper, on the other hand, is typically used to describe a lighter evening meal, often served in a more informal setting. It is also associated with the last meal of the day, reflecting a traditional viewpoint where dinner (the main meal) could occur at noon or in the early evening.

Origin of Dinner

The term dinner comes from the Old French word “disner,” which originally meant to break one’s fast in the morning. Over time, as meals shifted later in the day, the meaning evolved to denote the main meal, regardless of when it was eaten.

Origin of Supper

Supper stems from the Old French “souper,” meaning the evening meal. Traditionally, supper was a lighter meal or snack eaten before going to bed and has retained much of this connotation in modern usage.


  • Dinner: /ˈdɪnər/
  • Supper: /ˈsʌpər/

Comparing Dinner and Supper

Time of DayEvening, can varyTypically evening, after dinner
Size of MealUsually the largest meal of the dayLighter than dinner
FormalityCan be formal or informalGenerally informal
CulturalBroadly recognized across culturesMore specific to certain regions
FrequencyDailyDaily, but can be optional

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Dinner in Sentences

  1. We’re having guests over for dinner tonight; I’m cooking the main course.
    • Here, dinner signifies a special meal in the evening.
  2. Can we meet for dinner around 7 PM?
    • Implies a main meal, suggesting a social or formal gathering.
  3. What did you have for dinner last night?
    • Refers to the evening meal, curious about the menu.
  4. Dinner is usually the time we talk about our day.
    • Indicates dinner as a social family gathering.
  5. I missed dinner, so I’ll just grab a snack.
    • Dinner here is the main meal, missed due to timing.

Use of Supper in Sentences

  1. Let’s have some soup for supper; I’m not very hungry.
    • Supper implies a light, informal meal.
  2. Grandma always called the evening meal supper.
    • Reflects a traditional or regional usage of supper.
  3. Are you joining us for supper or eating out?
    • Suggests an optional, informal meal at home.
  4. We had a late lunch, so supper will be something simple.
    • Indicates supper as a lighter, later meal.
  5. Supper will be ready in 10 minutes, just sandwiches tonight.
    • Shows supper as a quick, informal meal.


While dinner and supper are terms often used interchangeably in some contexts, they carry different connotations regarding the time of day, formality, and size of the meal. Understanding these nuances can add clarity and precision to our discussions about meals.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Is “supper” more formal than “dinner”?
    • No, supper is generally considered more informal than dinner.
  • Can “dinner” refer to a meal at noon?
    • Historically, yes, but in modern usage, dinner usually refers to the evening meal.
  • Is “supper” a regional term?
    • Yes, supper is more commonly used in certain regions, such as the UK and some parts of the US.
  • Do the terms vary by country?
    • Absolutely, the usage of dinner and supper can vary significantly from one country to another, reflecting cultural and linguistic differences.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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