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Origins of Breakfast and Dinner

The Origins of Breakfast and Dinner
The words “Breakfast” and “Dinner” are two words very commonly used today in our society
as it pertains to when we eat our food. But where do these words that are used in our everyday
language actually come from? Well the irony is that the word “Dinner” was actually used to
describe breakfast around the 1300s all the way until the 18th century. “Dinner” stems from the
latin word iejunus, which means “fasting, hungry, not partaking food” and was later on
formulated in old french as disner, which literally translates to the word “Breakfast”. In the
Medieval Times and in Modern Europe, their “Dinner” (which was breakfast) was taken at noon
as their first and biggest meal of the day, then a lighter meal called supper would come
afterwards. Gradually, other meals were added and dinner became known forever as the largest
meal of the day. Because it was the heaviest meal, it eventually got pushed later and later in the
day until it got to where it is now, which is during the early evening in western and european
The other word “Breakfast” comes from late modern english from the two words “Break” and
“Fast”. To fast is to refrain from eating for a certain period of time, thus breaking the fast means
to recommence eating. After having had gone the night without consuming food, the first meal of
the day would end the fasting period. The old english word for breakfast was morgenmete. It was
also a compound word which translated to “Morning Meal”. Breakfast was later adopted in the
1400s, but before that there was no real tradition set in place to eat in the early morning like we
do now. In fact, in the late Middle Ages people believed that eating early in the morning before
the midday meal was a sign of weakness, and food historian Caroline Yeldham even said that in
Ancient Rome "The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day". Some
historians write that breakfast was only a luxury for the richer class and many agree that
breakfast became a normal routine once labourers began urbanisation, moving into cities to work
fixed hourly shifts. By the time the Industrial Revolution came around, breakfast was completely
“Dinner (n.).” Etymonline.com, Douglas Harper, https://www.etymonline.com/word/dinner
Hiskey, David. “The Word “Dinner: Used To Refer To Breakfast.”, Todayifoundout, 5 July
2012, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/07/dinner-used-to-refer-to-breakfast/
Bouchard, R. Philip. “Word Connections: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.” Medium, 10 Jan 2017,
Mayyaasi, Alex. “How Breakfast Became A Thing.” Price Economics, 9 May 2016,