Encyclopedia > Dinner

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Dinner is a term with several meanings.

In North America, dinner is a synonym of supper - that is, a large evening meal.

In parts of Canada, the United States, and Great Britain, dinner can be a synonym of lunch.

A more general definition of "dinner," especially outside North America, is any meal consisting of multiple courses. The minimum is usually two but here can be as many as seven. Possible courses are:

Some confusion is caused by the word entrée, which is used in America for the main course, but which was originally one of the earlier courses (most likely the fish course, when the main dish was red meat). In Quebec les entrées are the appetizers; it's no doubt used differently in other places.

Dinner is generally followed by tea or coffee, sometimes served with mint chocolates or other sweets, or with brandy or a digestif. When dinner consists of many courses, these tend to be smaller and to be served over a longer time period than a dinner with only two or three courses. Dinners with many courses tend to occur at formal events such as dinner parties or banquets.

The meal is generally served in the evening, starting some time between 7:30 and 8:30. It may be served at midday or shortly afterwards. However this tends to be more common practice in Scotland than in other countries.

See also: breakfast, lunch, high tea, supper;

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