How many different types of meals can you think of? There are actually quite a few synonyms in English for the word ‘meal‘, depending on the size of the meal, the time of day and how it is served. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated! But don’t worry, the most common English synonyms with ‘meal' are here in this blog post!

When you finish reading, do the quiz at the end of this post to test your skills! And then, check out this blog post on 14 less common English synonyms for ‘meal‘.

Let's start with ‘meal':

MEAL (n) an occasion when you eat.

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all meals at different times of day.
  • I’m not very hungry. I ate a big meal at lunchtime.
  • What do you call your evening meal?

MEAL (n) the food that you serve or eat at one time.

  • They took us for an Indian meal in London. (They took us to an Indian restaurant.)
  • She cooked us a delicious meal.

Common Synonyms For ‘Meal' 


BREAKFAST (n) the first meal you have in the morning.

  • I have scrambled eggs for breakfast on Saturdays. 
  • What do you want for breakfast?

LUNCH (n) the meal you eat in the middle of the day. ‘Luncheon’ is a very formal way of saying ‘lunch’.

  • He made us chicken sandwiches for lunch.
  • Can I take you out for lunch?

DINNER (n) the main meal of the day. Usually dinner is served in the evening. A late evening meal can be called ‘supper’ and an early evening meal can be called ‘tea’.

  • What are you cooking for dinner?
  • He took me out for a nice dinner to celebrate our anniversary.

TEA (n) the food that you serve or eat at one time.

  • Let's have tea at 6pm so we can get to the movie in time. 

DESSERT (n) usually sweet food, served after dinner.

  • I've baked chocolate pudding for dessert!

BRUNCH (n) a meal served in the late morning, between breakfast and lunch. It is not common to eat breakfast, brunch and lunch! Brunch usually combines breakfast and lunch.

  • I’m meeting her for brunch at 11am.

MORNING TEA (n) something small to eat and drink in the middle of the morning. Morning tea is called ‘elevensies’ in the UK.

  • I visit my grandmother for morning tea every Tuesday.

ELEVENSIES (n) a small snack between meals in the middle of the morning, usually at 11am. ‘Elevensies' is commonly used in the UK and is the same as ‘morning tea’

  • There’s an biscuit and some apple juice in your bag for your elevensies.

 AFTERNOON TEA (n) something small to eat and drink in the middle of the afternoon.

  • I’ve brought some mandarins and peaches for afternoon tea.

SNACK (n) a small amount of food eaten between meals.

  • I didn’t eat much for breakfast, so I will have a quick snack before the meeting.

A BITE (n) a small amount of food, usually eaten quickly.

  • We’ve only got an hour until our appointment. Let’s have a quick bite to eat, then drive over.

BARBECUE (n) a meal where meat and vegetables are cooked (and usually eaten) outside. It is a meal that you often invite friends to. Can be abbreviated to BBQ or ‘Barbie’ in Australia!

  • Some friends are coming to our house on Saturday for a barbecue, you should come too!

TAKEAWAY or TAKE-OUT (n) a meal that you buy from a restaurant, but take it home (or somewhere else) to eat it. Takeaway is British English and takeout is American English.

  • I don’t want to go out tonight, let’s just get takeaway and eat at home.

PICNIC (n) a meal eaten outside, often in a park, at the beach or in the countryside.

  • It’s a beautiful day, let’s take a picnic to the park and eat by the lake.

Now, test your knowledge! Which ‘meal noun' best describes the three pictures below? (HINT: There could be more than one answer!) Write your answers in the comments box below!

Can you guess which meal these dishes are eaten at?