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Luncheon vs. Lunch: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Luncheon is a formal or ceremonial lunch, often involving multiple courses, while lunch is a midday meal.

Key Differences

Lunch is the term used for a midday meal, typically a casual affair, whether it's a sandwich at your desk or a quick bite at a café. Luncheon, on the other hand, denotes a more formal meal that may be associated with a meeting, event, or special occasion, and often implies a sit-down affair with several courses.
Luncheon has an air of formality and occasion to it; it's the sort of meal you'd expect at a wedding, a club meeting, or a corporate event. Lunch is an everyday occurrence, often informal and with no particular expectations of ceremony or specific menu.
While lunch is a common part of daily routine for most people, a luncheon is an event that could require an invitation and could even be a part of a larger event, such as a luncheon seminar. Lunch can be as simple as leftovers eaten at the office, whereas a luncheon might involve a keynote speaker or presentations.
The word lunch can also be used as a verb, as in "to lunch on sandwiches," meaning to eat sandwiches for lunch. Luncheon does not typically function as a verb; its usage is confined to being a noun that carries a sense of formality and occasion.
In social settings, a luncheon often involves networking, speeches, or presentations, and it may have a specific purpose, such as fundraising. A lunch, conversely, is a meal taken in the middle of the day that could be for sustenance or a break from activities, without additional context or activities.

Comparison Chart


Formal, often with multiple courses
Casual, can be a simple meal


Events, ceremonies, meetings
Everyday settings


Requires an invitation or announcement
No special occasion needed

Verb Usage

Not used as a verb
Can be used as a verb ("to lunch")

Accompanying Activities

Often includes speeches or networking
Typically just eating

Luncheon and Lunch Definitions


An organized, often multi-course meal at midday.
She attended a business luncheon with potential clients.


A meal eaten in the middle of the day.
I grabbed lunch from the food truck today.


A midday meal associated with an event or meeting.
The wedding luncheon was held in a grand ballroom.


A casual midday meal.
Let's go out for lunch this afternoon.


A formal midday meal for a group.
The charity luncheon raised a significant amount of funds.


The food prepared for a midday meal.
She packed her lunch in a reusable container.


A formal meal served around lunchtime, typically in a social or professional setting.
I have a luncheon with the board of directors next week.


A break in the workday for a meal.
We have a half-hour for lunch during the conference.


A ceremonial or celebratory midday meal.
The club's annual luncheon featured a guest speaker.


To eat the midday meal.
They lunch together every Friday.


A lunch, especially a formal one.


A meal eaten at midday.


An afternoon party at which a light meal is served.


The food provided for a midday meal.


Is lunch a formal event?

No, lunch is typically an informal, everyday meal.

What defines a luncheon?

A luncheon is a formal midday meal, often for a special occasion.

Do all luncheons require invitations?

Most do, due to their formal nature.

Is it common to have speakers at a luncheon?

Yes, especially at luncheons held for clubs or organizations.

Can any lunch be called a luncheon?

Not really; "luncheon" implies a certain level of formality.

Can lunch be part of a luncheon?

Yes, the meal served at a luncheon is essentially lunch, but in a formal setting.

What time of day is lunch served?

Lunch is usually served from midday to early afternoon.

Are luncheons always multi-course meals?

Often, but not necessarily; it depends on the formality of the event.

What attire is appropriate for a luncheon?

It varies, but often business or semi-formal attire is expected.

Are luncheons adult-only events?

Not necessarily, but they are generally more adult-oriented.

Can lunch include business discussions?

Yes, business lunches are common.

Is it appropriate to call a quick meal lunch?

Yes, a quick midday meal is typically referred to as lunch.

Do you need to RSVP for a luncheon?

Generally, yes, due to the organized nature of the event.

Are luncheons common in professional settings?

Yes, they're often used for networking and meetings.

Do luncheons have to be at noon?

They're usually around midday, but the exact time can vary.

Can luncheons be informal?

Typically, they are formal, but some may be less so.

Can luncheon be used as a verb?

No, luncheon is not typically used as a verb.

Could a luncheon be a buffet?

Yes, some luncheons are served buffet style.

Is a picnic considered a lunch or luncheon?

A picnic is more casual and would be considered a lunch.

Is there a typical menu for lunch?

Lunch menus vary widely and are often casual.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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