Share this entry

dinner Line breaks: din¦ner
Pronunciation: /ˈdɪnə/

Definition of dinner in English:


1The main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening.
Example sentences
  • This includes luxury coach, motel accommodation, three breakfasts and dinners plus one lunch.
  • They receive subsidised breakfast, lunch and dinners if they have to work late.
  • You celebrate cozy dinners and candlelight evenings with family and loved ones.
1.1A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.
Example sentences
  • The dining hall is usually reserved for the weekly formal dinners and breakfast buffets.
  • Our team provides the best quality food to all sizes of events, from corporate dinners to weddings.
  • Bacon had to carry on with the reception and dinners in his honour.


Middle English: from Old French disner (infinitive used as a noun: see dine).

  • Our words dine (Middle English) and dinner are both from the same root, Old French desjeuner ‘to have breakfast’, which survives in modern French as déjeuner, ‘lunch’, and petit déjeuner, ‘breakfast’. The root was jëun ‘fasting’, which goes back to Latin jejunus ‘fasting, barren’ found also in jejune (early 17th century) which originally meant ‘without food’ and then ‘not intellectually nourishing’. In Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to be done like a dinner is to be utterly defeated or outwitted—the British equivalent is done like a kipper. The messy and unappetizing appearance of food set out for a dog is behind the expressions a dog's dinner (or breakfast), meaning ‘a poor piece of work’ a mess', and dressed up like a dog's dinner, ‘wearing ridiculously smart or ostentatious clothes’, which date from the 1930s.


done like (a) dinner

Australian /NZ & Canadian informal Utterly defeated or outwitted.
Example sentences
  • If Prime Minist er Chretien called a snap election during that period, Mr. Morrison warned, the UA could be ‘done like dinner.’
  • We shouldn't be going to court to get done like a dinner,’ she said.
  • No authority up front, line-outs a continuing disaster, done like a dinner at the breakdowns, no energy, no spark, no cohesion, no composure… no bloody team.

more —— than someone has had hot dinners

British informal Used to emphasize someone’s wide experience of a specified activity or phenomenon: he’s seen more battles than you’ve had hot dinners
More example sentences
  • ‘They've put out more leaflets than you've had hot dinners,’ she says.
  • They've driven through the place more times than you've had hot dinners and no amount of redirection is going to stop them.
  • Kid, I've travelled this road more times than you've had hot dinners.

Words that rhyme with dinner

beginner, Berliner, Corinna, grinner, inner, Jinnah, sinner, skinner, spinner, thinner, winner

Definition of dinner in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive