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Difference between Dinner and Supper

Dinner and Supper both refer to the meals of the day. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to the general setting of the last meal of the day. In some parts of the world, dinner is the last meal of the day, whereas, in some other parts, supper is the last meal of the day.

Dinner is usually considered an early meal usually eaten between 2 pm and 5 pm, whereas supper is considered a late evening meal usually eaten between 7 pm and 11 pm. These timings of dinner and supper may not hold true for all countries, cultures etc. Let us see how dinner differs from supper!

Dinner:

Dinner is an important and main meal of the day. It is the largest meal of the day, regardless of the timing as the term dinner may have different meanings depending on the cultures and countries. So, dinner is taken either at midday or in the evening and is preceded by lunch. Traditionally, it was the first meal of the day, taken before noon.

Thus, dinner does not necessarily refer to eating a meal at a particular time of the day. Depending on cultures, countries or where you are it may refer to the day meal or the evening meal. However, it always refers to the main meal of the day. The word dinner is derived from Latin word disjejunare which means "to break one's fast".

Furthermore, the formal evening meal in honor of a person or an event is also referred to as dinner. A banquet feast or a special meal eaten on a holiday is always known as dinner, e.g. Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner etc.

Supper:

Super always refers to an evening meal but unlike dinner, it is light and informal meal. In other words, a lighter, informal meal eaten in the evening is known as supper, e.g. late-evening snacks. This term is derived from a French word for soup. In some parts of the world, the terms dinner and supper are used interchangeably. In Saskatchewan and in most parts of Atlantic Canada, the term supper refers to the main meal of the day taken in the late afternoon and dinner refers to the mid-day meal.

Based on the above information some of the key differences between dinner and supper are as follows:

Dinner Supper
It is eaten earlier, before supper. It is eaten later, after dinner.
It is eaten at midday or in the evening, e.g. between 2 pm and 5 pm. It is eaten only in the evening after dark, e.g. between 7 pm and 11 pm.
It is a primary or main meal of the day. It is not a main meal of the day.
It is formal and the largest meal of the day. It is a lighter and less formal meal of the day.
It is associated with sophistication and grandeur, e.g. guests are invited to dinner, not to supper. It is an informal meal, not associated with grandeur, e.g. guests are not invited to supper.
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