Appalachian Dialect

Breakfast – Dinner – Supper

breakfast dinner supper

dinner noun The midday meal, traditionally the main one of the day.
1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 1 Pap let the county build a school house free on his land which was nigh enuf for ’em to go home to dinner. And he was “powerful to send us to school.” 1940 Oakley Roamin’/Restin‘ 128 Its dinner in the mountains at 12 noon and supper at night. 1959 Pearsall Little Smoky 91 “Let’s get us some dinner” may be said any time from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 159 I want to go back where they eat three meals a day-breakfast, dinner and supper, where the word lunch will never be heard again. 1996 Houk Foods & Recipes 7 Before noon, women headed home to fix “dinner,” the main meal of the day, consisting of hot cornbread, beans, pork in some form, and possibly a dessert. Duly fortified, they went back out to the cornfield for the afternoon. What appeared on the table for supper often closely resembled what was left over from dinner.

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Half of the T knob on Granny’s well faucet has been broke off for a good long while. Pap didn’t have any trouble turning the water on, but Granny said it hurt her hand when she tried to turn the lopsided knob when she watered the garden.

We bought a replacement piece a couple weeks ago and yesterday morning The Deer Hunter decided it was time to take care of the knob.

As often happens with small jobs, the knob replacement turned into a more complicated project after The Deer Hunter accidentally broke the pipe going into the well while trying to loosen the knob that had been on there since the well was drilled in the 80s.

Between our house, Paul’s house, and Pap’s basement we scrounged up enough plumbing fittings for The Deer Hunter to re-plumb the well top. By the time we finished Granny had cooked and said we might as well stay for dinner so we did.


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  • Reply
    barbara lunsford davis
    July 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I think people who worked hard in the fields all day,ate a Dinner meal at noon,so they could make it the rest of the day in the field.And the Supper was in the evening meal when the work was done ,for all but the cooks, who had to clean up after the evening meal.Thats what I have always called it and its hard to change.Unless I’m having a salad or something lite,it can be Lunch,but a big meal midday is still
    dinner.Then you need a nap.No field work after that.ha

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 26, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Lunch is a sandwich, soup or a one dish leftover….Dinner is a meal and supper is leftover dinner!
    That’s where we are from…ha

  • Reply
    June 26, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Growing up, I remember us using ‘dinner’ and ‘supper’ interchangeably for the evening meal. But my dad worked at the county extension office in town most days, so there wasn’t a big meal needed at mid-day.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    June 25, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Where I grew up, we had breakfast, lunch (usually a sandwich or bowl of soup) and the full meal supper Monday through Saturday, and breakfast, dinner (a full meal after church) and supper on Sunday. That’s how it was when our Dad grew up, and that’s how we did it in his house. I remember once suggesting we have our big Sunday meal in the evening instead of having it at 2pm where it broke up the day, and I remember he just shook his head and walked away, and I took that as a no.
    Interesting thought though isn’t it.
    Nowadays it depends a lot on our unusual work hours, although I did notice I call the evening meal supper.
    I pray everyone’s having a great, and safe, weekend.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    June 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I still always refer to the evening meal as supper. However, I tend to call the mid-day meal either lunch or dinner, whichever just comes out first. I do notice that, on Sundays, I never refer to the mid-day meal as lunch. That meal is always referred to as dinner.
    At church, two Sundays a year we have “dinner on the ground”. It would never be called “lunch on the ground”. If I were to guess where/when the change to calling the mid-day meal lunch instead of dinner came for me, it would be from school. The meal at school was always called lunch.
    Tipper, I hope you don’t mind but I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my mama and daddy a happy 50th anniversary. These days for couple to stay together that long is way too rare. I know I am blessed to still have them both. I thank God for my parents and the way they raised me and for where I have been blessed to grow up.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I’m glad Granny has a new faucet knob- those quick fixes often turn into all-day jobs.
    Growing up in Tennessee and Florida, Sunday Dinner was after church, whether at home or out-to-eat, with leftovers, or light fare for supper. We only used the term supper for the evening meal, though it was usually the main meal, the rest of the week.
    In Arkansas, at my paternal grandparents, Dinner was everyday at the noon whistle from the saw mill in town- I mean a full country Dinner! Supper was leftovers. Good memories :-).

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Lunch is what you carry in a sack, bag, poke, bucket or in the bib pocket of your overalls. If you’re eating at home its breakfast, dinner and supper. Those folks in California are nuts in many ways.
    Most times when I decide to repair something it takes 4-5 times as long to gather tools and parts than to do the repair.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 25, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I grew up with breakfast,dinner and supper. Somewhere over the years of working around people not from my neck of the woods I migrated towards breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    I don’t necessarily think that was a good thing since I picked up other vernacular habits as well. A friend once ask me where I was from and he said “well you sure wouldn’t know it by talking to you.” I have to say I felt like I had betrayed my
    people a wee bit.
    As far as plumbing it can be a pain sometimes. It usually breaks at the worst possible time or you have to make three trips to the store to get the right parts. I am a pretty good handyman and hate to pay someone for something I can do for myself but there have been times I thought what have I gotten myself into?
    There is a fitting every man who tackles a plumbing job needs to know about. It’s called a Shark Bite fitting. It is the greatest thing since sliced bread! It has saved me more than once. It adapts to about any kind of pipe and it slides on and clicks into place and presto it’s done. Trust me, these things are handier than a pocket on a shirt!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I agree with the Mt. Folklore add about Breakfast, dinner, and supper, and that shouldn’t change. There’s some faucets leaking in my house at times, but I love this Mountain Water. Sure beats carrying it from a spring, which I did enough of when I was younger. I’m glad to have had the experience tho…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Growing up we had only one clock in the house, a wind up alarm clock. If it stopped we were out of luck. When electricity came we could listen to the radio to get the time.
    When we were outside we have a different clock based when we ate. It’s times were- before daylight, before breakfast, breakfast and after breakfast-before dinner, dinnertime and after dinner-before supper, suppertime and after supper-about dark (or gettin dark) and black dark. We only used the word lunch when we were in school. That was because they had a lunchroom and and we almost always packed our lunch. “Are you eatin in the lunchroom? “No. I’m packing” Imagine what would happen if you were overheard saying “I’m packing” these days. You would soon be swooped down upon by the FBI, SBI, ATF, CNN and Fox.
    My son bought 1995 Ninja 500 crotch rocket recently. There wasn’t supposed to be anything wrong with it but when he got it home it had a major problem. The locking gas cap was stuck. We sprayed WD40, PB Blaster, brake cleaner and carburetor cleaner on it, all to no avail. After three days of frustration he decide to take it to a locksmith. He came to me saying, “Dad will you help me load the Ninja on my truck?”
    “No” I said.
    “I guess I can back the truck in the ditch and load it that way.”
    “No” I said. “Just take off the tank and take it to the locksmith. That way you can still work on the bike and even ride it.”
    So, he cleaned to carburetors and rigged up a gas tank out of a 16 oz Diet TWST Mist bottle and off he went.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    June 25, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Unless the “New” Navy has changed the menu nomenclature, The Enlisted Galley served Breakfast, Dinner and Supper and the Officer’s Wardroom served Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Ask a sailor if he wanted to get lunch, you would often get, “Do I look like an Officer?”

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 25, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Yep! We had breakfast, dinner, and supper all my growing-up life. Daddy came home from work, and I came home from school for dinner at noon. Every now and then, the church ladies would have a “luncheon” around noon at church, and Mama would go to that, leaving dinner on the stove form Daddy and me. After I grew up and got what I considered sophisticated (ha!), I elected to begin using the terms breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but somehow I never could think of an evening meal as dinner, so it ended up breakfast, lunch, and supper. Of course, if you go out in the evening to a restaurant, you say you are going out to dinner. No wonder foreigners think learning English is difficult!! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 10:39 am

    My mother still calls the evening meal supper, but she does call the midday meal lunch because she just has a sandwich. On Sunday after church, she has what she calls her Sunday dinner. We have holiday dinners in the middle of the day, except for Fourth of July, when it is supper, because it takes all day to slow smoke spareribs. At my mother-in-law’s retirement home, dinner is a big meal in the middle of the day, and they call it that. Supper is lighter fare, and they call it supper. Of course, we’re in Richmond, Va., so it’s the south. I think a lot of terms are used throughout the south.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 25, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I grew up calling them breakfast, dinner and supper also. Now I think I kinda switch around but don’t listen to myself well enough to be sure. The words don’t concern me except as they are a case study for lost heritage generally.
    I’d about as soon go to the dentist as do plumbing. It has the aggravating habit of turning into a bigger project than it was supposed to. And like everything else in the building trades one typically doesn’t know about the latest and greatest (fastest and easiest) way to do things. I’ve lived a lot of years without water in the house and having it is nice – ’till something breaks.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 25, 2016 at 10:15 am

    When I do field measurement work on pumping systems, nine times out of ten I’ll be the one who removes an installed pressure gauge or other fitting to put on my test gauge. I’ve done this a few thousand times and never had a problem. But on two different occasions when working at plants where only mechanics/pipe fitters were allowed to wield a wrench, the fitting broke off.
    In one case I was standing about 5 ft away talking to a fellow when a pressurized stream of water hit me up the side of the head, knocked off my hard hat and safety glasses and thoroughly washed out my ear. It was on a critical system (coolant for a furnace at a steel mill), and you’ve never seen such a bunch of boys descend on a problem and get it fixed.
    The other was on a cooling tower system and wasn’t nearly as high a pressure. Like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, the mechanic held his thumb over the broken tubing for a half hour until help arrived.
    Whether it involves fixing something or doing engineering work, it seems to me that it takes me longer than I think it will over half the time.
    But even if it does, I stop at noon and have dinner.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 9:26 am

    We had what the teachers called a dinner bell at school, yet they called the building where we ate the lunch room. Daddy carried a dinner bucket to the mines every day.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Why does that always happen? It is old is why it needs replaced, so full of rust. WD 40 and duct tape have become my best tools. Spaghetti sounds good for supper, dinner, and yes even breakfast.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    June 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Dinner is always the biggest meal of the day for me so it moves back and forth from noon to evening. If am working hard I don’t want a big meal for noon meal so it is lunch. If I am in town and eat a bigger noon meal it is dinner. Of course I am always asked if I mean lunch.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    June 25, 2016 at 8:20 am

    My grandchildren have finally given up on trying to educate grandpa about dinner the noon meal. Now that 3 of the 4 are 15 yrs old they just grin in tolerance as grandpa tries to educate them. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Cullen in Clyde
    June 25, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Yep, had to replace the pressure tank on our well this past Spring. Thought I’d just be able to unscrew the threaded elbow from the old tank and re-use it. As “plumbing fate” would have it, the fitting broke off in the old tank. Took another 40 mile round trip to get everything put back together. Those projects always seem to explode on me.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    June 25, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Yep, dinner at noon and supper late in the day.
    My Grandma W. Cooked dinner everyday on the wood-burning cook stove. In summer she cooked by burning corncobs left from shelling corn for the livestock. Corncobs make a quick heat and burn out fast, letting the kitchen cool down a bit after cooking.
    The meal is much as you described, the pork was grown, processed, and cured right on the farm. Much of what we ate was called side meat. It was greasy and it was quite tasty. The grease was saved to make lye soap.
    Leftovers were sometimes put in a hollowed out piece of stone called the spring house. It was outside the smokehouse, about the size of a bathtub. No spring ran through it. We pumped cold well water to put in it. There was no electricity until well into the 1950s, then a refrigerator called a Crosley Shelvedoor assumed leftover duties.
    Some leftovers stayed on the table til supper. After dinner everything was covered with a square white cloth, nothing fancy. I am guessing it was made from flour sacks, there were always seams in it.
    In summer sliced tomatoes and fried corn were delicious additions to dinner.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    June 25, 2016 at 8:07 am

    In the country in the mountains of North Georgia during my growing up years we ate breakfast, dinner and supper. By noon, folks had worked hard in the fields and were ready for a hearty meal (dinner). Like the Smoky Mountain English book states, we ate leftovers for supper, supplemented by whatever else that could be prepared more easily than the full-course “dinner” meal at noon. But we’ve become “sophisticated” now. We speak in terms of “dinner” as being a main meal in the evening. But I like to think still of feeding hungry, hard-working people at noon as being “dinner.”

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I remember my mother calling the mid day meal dinner. I think the change to lunch came when my father started working all day and not coming home for dinner. The big meal had to be switched until early evening. Then of course all us kids were in school. Life changes all began when the parents started working away from the home.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I remember my mother calling the mid day meal dinner. I think the change to lunch came when my father started working all day and not coming home for dinner. The big meal had to be switched until early evening. Then of course all us kids were in school. Life changes all began when the parents started working away from the home.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I remember my mother calling the mid day meal dinner. I think the change to lunch came when my father started working all day and not coming home for dinner. The big meal had to be switched until early evening. Then of course all us kids were in school. Life changes all began when the parents started working away from the home.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I remember my mother calling the mid day meal dinner. I think the change to lunch came when my father started working all day and not coming home for dinner. The big meal had to be switched until early evening. Then of course all us kids were in school. Life changes all began when the parents started working away from the home.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Oh, those little projects that turn into half a day taken away from other, expected tasks! Happens often here, and I’m a half hour from a hardware store. Glad you succeeded in the end, and I bet Granny is, too! What a difference the right handle can make. I had to replace my back door knob with a lever-type when I could no longer grip the round knob without my hand aching for the next few hours. Embarrassed to say it took months to think there might be an alternative!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Your very fortunate, Tip, to be married to a man who can fix most near anything. In fact I guess he has that trait in common with Pap. Rare men and a true find!

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