What’s the difference between ‘dinner’ and ‘supper’?

Daybreak

We use the terms interchangeably but they don't actually mean the same thing

(WYTV) – Do you say “dinner” or do you say “supper”? We use the terms “supper” and “dinner” interchangeably today, but “dinner” typically shows up more often.

Most people will know they’re referring to the last meal of the day, but they’re not really the same thing.

If your grandparents used the term “supper,” there’s a chance your ancestors were farmers.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Americans regularly ate a light supper as their evening meal because dinner was the biggest meal of the day around noon.

The purpose of eating the largest meal at noontime was so farmers would have more strength and energy to get through the rest of their workday.

Dictionary.com confirms that “dinner” doesn’t refer to a specific time of day. It simply means the main meal.

But “supper” comes from an old French word meaning “evening meal.” So we had a big dinner, then six hours later, a small supper.

But habits changed. Eating the biggest meal of the day around noon started to become a thing of the past when more Americans began working away from their homes and farms.

More and more people shifted their main meal of the day to the evening, enjoying their food and spending time with their family.

Today you’ll hear “supper” more commonly used in southern and midwestern states because they relied on agriculture.

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