Supper and dinner refer to the primary or largest meal eaten at midday or in the evening. In British English, supper refers to an informal light meal before bed. For example, a piece of cake and a drink. Furthermore, dinner also means a meal on a formal feast or celebration.
Both terms are interchangeable and correct. However, supper is typically an informal light meal, while dinner is formal. When it comes to usage, “supper” is more common in Southern and Midwestern states (aside from the U.K.) Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, “tea” is another name for the third meal of the day. Hence, supper, dinner, and tea are other names for their main meal.
Modern Usage of Supper
The modern usage of supper greatly varies; supper means a light snack or evening meal, either after or instead of dinner, but often it replaces dinner as the term for the primary evening meal. From the root word “to sup,” it comes, similarly, from farming traditions: many farming households would have soup throughout the day and would eat it in the evening — particularly, to “sup” the soup.
Additionally, a famous reference, The Last Supper, is the final meal in the Gospel accounts that Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. Also, the famous art depiction of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci has been a popular subject in Christian art even up to now.
When to Use Supper
Supper as the main meal of the day
‘What did you have for supper?’
I invited Fely and Jie over for supper on Saturday evening.
Ino’s favorite supper is roast beef with mushrooms.
Supper as a light snack before bedtime (British English)
I usually have yogurt as my supper while I binge-watch before sleeping.
My sister and I would eat supper in the living room and talk about how our day went.
Margaux likes sliced apples and tea as supper.
When to Use Dinner
Dinner as the main meal of the day
It’s fun to have a sit-down dinner with neighbors.
‘What for dinner?’ ‘We will have baked macaroni and cheese!’
I would skip dinner at home and have it outside when I go home late from work.
Dinner as a meal on formal occasions
There’ll be a charity dinner to raise funds for the typhoon victims.
Our club will have its annual dinner tomorrow evening at The Hermitage Hotel.
I’m excited to go on to the intimate dinner my friends set up for me.
Supper vs. Dinner: Which One to Use?
Dinner and supper are both words used to describe the main or heaviest meal of the day. Whether the meal happens at noon or in the evening, it’s predominantly cultural. While both terms can be used interchangeably, there are differences. For example, dinner is used to describe a meal on formal occasions, while supper can mean a very light meal before bedtime or after dinner in British English.
Also, in Southern and Midwestern states, supper is still used. Apply this learning and create a template to improve writing.
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Dinner. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/ dictionary. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/dinner
Kazek, K. (2018, May 24). Do you call it dinner or supper? What’s the difference: It’s A Southern Thing. https://www.southernthing.com/dinner-or-supper-in-the-south-2571500089.html
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Dinner. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dinner
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Supper. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supper
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online (n.d.). Dinner. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/dinner
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online (n.d.). Supper. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/supper