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Supper vs. Dinner: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 16, 2023
Supper traditionally refers to a light or informal evening meal, while dinner is the main meal of the day, often eaten in the evening.

Key Differences

Supper, historically, was a lighter, secondary evening meal. Dinner, in contrast, has been considered the main meal of the day, whether eaten at midday or in the evening.
Supper is often viewed as a casual meal, sometimes consisting of leftovers or simple dishes. Dinner, however, is typically more elaborate and is a primary social event of the day.
The term supper is more commonly used in certain regions and among specific cultural groups. Dinner, meanwhile, is widely recognized and used in various English-speaking regions.
Supper may occur later in the evening, following an early dinner, especially in cultures with a tradition of multiple daily meals. Dinner, when referred to as the evening meal, often occurs earlier than supper.
Supper's connotation leans towards a family-oriented, at-home meal. Dinner, while also family-centric, is often associated with larger gatherings or dining out.

Comparison Chart

Time of Day

Traditionally a later evening meal
Can be midday or evening, but often evening


Generally informal and light
More formal and considered the main meal

Social Context

Often family-oriented and casual
Can be a social event or family gathering

Regional Usage

More common in specific regions/cultures
Widely used across different English-speaking areas

Typical Composition

Lighter fare, sometimes leftovers
Heavier, more varied and elaborate dishes

Supper and Dinner Definitions


A late evening meal, often simpler than the main meal of the day.
They enjoyed sandwiches for supper after the movie.


A formal or substantial meal in the late afternoon or evening.
The gala event included a sit-down dinner.


A casual meal eaten in the evening.
Supper at their house always felt cozy and relaxed.


A large meal, often shared with family or friends.
Sunday dinner was a traditional family gathering.


An informal evening meal, typically lighter than dinner.
We had soup and salad for supper.


A significant meal, often signifying a social occasion.
They were invited to a formal dinner at the ambassador’s residence.


The final meal of the day, usually less formal.
For supper, we often just have a light snack.


The principal meal, which can be elaborate or celebratory.
Their wedding dinner included a variety of gourmet dishes.


A smaller, evening meal, distinct from a formal dinner.
They invited us over for a casual supper next Friday.


The main meal of the day, typically eaten in the evening.
They hosted a three-course dinner for the anniversary.


An evening meal; dinner.


The chief meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday.


A light or informal evening meal, especially when dinner is taken at midday.


A banquet or formal meal in honor of a person or event.


Is supper a formal occasion?

Supper is typically less formal than dinner.

Is supper always eaten after dinner?

Not necessarily; supper is often used interchangeably with dinner as the evening meal.

Can dinner be eaten at a restaurant?

Yes, dinner can be enjoyed at home or at a restaurant.

Can dinner be the midday meal?

Yes, in some cultures and regions, dinner refers to the main midday meal.

Is supper used more in rural areas?

In some regions, supper is more commonly used in rural settings.

Is supper quicker to prepare than dinner?

Supper is often simpler and quicker to prepare.

Are dinner portions larger than supper?

Generally, dinner is a more substantial meal compared to supper.

Does the term supper vary by region?

Yes, the use and meaning of supper can vary in different regions.

Is supper typically a family meal?

Yes, supper is often considered a family-oriented meal.

Do restaurants offer dinner specials?

Many restaurants offer special menus for dinner.

Do dinner meals include multiple courses?

Dinner, especially formal ones, can include multiple courses.

Is dinner associated with specific cuisines?

Dinner can vary widely in cuisine, depending on the culture.

Can dinner be a celebratory meal?

Yes, dinner is often used for celebrations and special occasions.

Is supper a British term?

Supper is used in British English, but its meaning can vary.

Can dinner be a buffet?

Yes, dinner can be served in various formats, including buffets.

Is supper the same as a snack?

No, supper is more substantial than a snack but lighter than dinner.

Can dinner be a social event?

Yes, dinner often serves as a primary social event.

Can supper include desserts?

Yes, though supper is lighter, it can include desserts.

Does supper have a fixed time?

Supper time can vary, but it's generally in the late evening.

Do dinner parties involve formal invitations?

Formal dinner parties often involve invitations, but casual dinners may not.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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