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From Old French disner (lunch”, but originally “breakfast), from Latin dis- + iēiūnō (to break the fast).


dinner (countable and uncountable, plural dinners)

  1. A midday meal (in a context in which the evening meal is called supper or tea).
    • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter II, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, OCLC 16832619:
      At twilight in the summer [] the mice come out. They [] eat the luncheon crumbs. Mr. Checkly, for instance, always brought his dinner in a paper parcel in his coat-tail pocket, and ate it when so disposed, sprinkling crumbs lavishly [] on the floor.
  2. The main meal of the day, often eaten in the evening.
  3. An evening meal.
  4. A meal given to an animal.
    Give the dog its dinner.
  5. A formal meal for many people eaten for a special occasion.
    • 1897, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity[1]:
      When I gave a dinner there was generally a cover laid for him. I liked the man for his own sake, and even had he promised to turn out a celebrity it would have had no weight with me.
    • 1927, F. E. Penny, chapter 4, in Pulling the Strings:
      Soon after the arrival of Mrs. Campbell, dinner was announced by Abboye. He came into the drawing room resplendent in his gold-and-white turban. […] His cummerbund matched the turban in gold lines.
  6. (uncountable) The food provided or consumed at any such meal.

Usage notes[edit]

  • There are differences in usage according to the social class of the speaker. Working-class and lower-middle-class speakers in Britain, for example, are more likely to refer to the midday meal as "dinner" and the evening meal as "tea" rather than "supper". Some speakers use common collocations of dinner such as school dinner, Sunday dinner and Christmas dinner to describe meals that they wouldn't otherwise call a dinner.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


dinner (third-person singular simple present dinners, present participle dinnering, simple past and past participle dinnered)

  1. to eat a dinner
    • 1887, Caroline Emily Cameron, A devout lover, Volume 1
      "She had taken her about to concerts and exhibitions — she had dinnered her at the Colonies, and suppered her at the New Club."
    • 2014, Caroline Akervik, White Pine - Page 57
      "Once I was geared up, I joined him on the wide, flat seat of the sled which was loaded up with hot food for the jacks who were dinnering out since they worked a forty far from the camp."



Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: sit · considerable · private · #768: dinner · command · etc. · broke