Posted by: Orlick | December 18, 2007

What’s the difference between Supper and Dinner?

Supper or Dinner?

I collect old fashioned etiquette books. I recently read in Emily Post’s “Etiquette” 10th edition 1960 a section entitled “Supper or Dinner”. This is some very interesting information that we normally don’t pay attention to. I never thought of distinguishing the two, but maybe we should…

Now, special attention must be paid to the year we are actually dining in, and the country. Things have changed since Emily Post was around apparently.

From my Emily Post:

“Whether a meal is correctly called dinner or supper depends upon what is served. At dinner, soup is always served in plates (with rims) and eaten with a tablespoon. Coffee is always black and serveed in half-sized cups after dinner. At supper, soup is served in cups or bowls. Coffee is served with cream in breakfast cups during the meal. There is also a difference in the menu, such as a roast with dinner, and minced or hashed or other made-over meat, or else cold meat for supper.”

Hmm, as far as eating goes, it seems supper is served in a diner and dinner in a restaurant.

Dinner remains the prominent meal of the day – moreso, any meal consisting of multiple courses. The ambiguity of time frame lends itself to different cultures’ ideas of what time this meal should take place.

In many cultures the most sophisticated (preparation-wise) meal takes place during midday. This is considered dinner. Later at night, they may have a supper (or tea for brits) which will be a very light snack/meal.

Alternatively, it is perfectly acceptable to have a light meal from 3-5 called supper, then a more sophisticated dinner later in the evening.

There used to be class distinctions with these terms. As to who ate what at which times of day – the higher the class the later the dinner. In the present, these class differences have turned into cultural differences.

It seems supper is a less-formal meal. There appears to be less etiquette and preparation involved with supper than dinner.
In summation… Dinner is the Kingdom of Food. Supper is the Prince of Meals.



  1. Wow, didn’t know dinner could be at the same time as lunch! Thanks for the information. =)

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