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De­sayuno and Din­ner

We’ve al­ready dis­cussed de­sayuno (“break­fast”): break­fast is the break-fast, just like des- (“an­ti”) ayuno (“fast”)!

How­ev­er, there’s an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to the sto­ry: din­ner.

The Eng­lish din­ner orig­i­nal­ly comes from the French for break­fast, which is al­most the same as the Span­ish. Both are from Latin and meant the same: desjunare. Thus, we can see over time that the Latin for break-fast (dis- + ieiunus) be­came “break­fast” in both French and Span­ish and then, via the French trans­formed in­to the Eng­lish din­ner while re­main­ing with the same mean­ing in Span­ish.

There­fore, we can see the d-(s)-n of de­sayuno map to the d‑n of din­ner.

But all of this sug­gests a ques­tion: how did break­fast (the first meal of the day) turn in­to din­ner (the last meal of the day)?

Easy: break­fast kept on get­ting lat­er and lat­er — un­til it was din­ner!

At first it was eat­ing in the morn­ing: break­ing the fast of the night. Then, over time, the big fast-break­ing meal would hap­pen around 2pm. Then even­tu­al­ly it turned in­to our 6pm din­ner­time.

We see this ves­tige of the old us­age in Eng­land, where din­ner is some­times used to re­fer to “lunch”–and the night-time meal that Amer­i­cans call din­ner is still some­times called… sup­per.


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