is a meal eaten around noon. It is usually the second meal of the day, after breakfast, and its size varies by culture and region.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the etymology of lunchtime is uncertain. It may have evolved from bulge similar to hunch, a derivative of hump, and bulge, a derivative of bulge. Alternatively, it may have evolved from Spanish lonja, meaning “slice of ham”. It was first recorded in 1591 as “thick piece, chunk” as in “Bacon Lunch”.The modern definition was first recorded in 1829.
Luncheon (US: /ˈləntʃən/ or UK: /ˈlʌntʃən/) is of similarly uncertain origin, according to the OED, who state that it is “in some way” related to lunch. It’s possible that lunch is similarly an extension of lunch, with punch to puncheon and trunch to bludgeon.Originally interchangeable with lunch, it is now used in particularly formal situations. The Oxford Companion to Food states that luncheon is a Northern English word derived in
from the Old English word nuncheon or nunchin, meaning “lunchtime drink”.
Meals have established themselves as something natural and logical in every society. What one society eats may seem extraordinary to another. The same goes for what was eaten long ago in history, as tastes, menu items, and meal times have changed dramatically over time. In the Middle Ages, the main meal of the day, then called dinner, was eaten for almost everyone in the late morning after several hours of work, when no artificial lighting was needed. In the early to mid-17th century 1
, food could be eaten anytime between late morning and afternoon.In the late 17th and 18th centuries, this meal was gradually shifted to the evening, creating a longer interval between breakfast and dinner. A meal called lunch came to fill the gap. The late meal, called dinner, was squeezed out over the course of dinner and often became a snack. But formal candlelit “dinners”, sometimes with entertainment, persisted into the Regency era, and a ball, which usually included dinner, was often served very late.
Up until the early 19th century, lunch was usually reserved for the ladies, who often ate lunch together when their husbands were away.The food was often relatively light and often included leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, which were often plentiful. As late as 1945, Emily Post wrote in Etiquette magazine that luncheon “is generally provided by and for women, but it is not uncommon, particularly in summer resorts or in the city on Saturday or Sunday, to include an equal number of men”. – hence the slightly derogatory expression “the ladies who eat lunch”. Lunch was a light meal for ladies; When the Prince of Wales stopped in for lunch with his girlfriends, he was laughed at for being soft.