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What do British call lunch?

If you’re planning a trip to the United Kingdom or have friends from across the pond, you might be curious about the terminology they use for meal times. Specifically, what do the British call their midday meal? For those not in the know, lunch is the term used for the midday meal in the UK. However, there are a few other terms commonly used that may cause confusion or surprise for those not used to British culinary culture. So, let’s explore the linguistic landscape of lunchtime in the UK and how it differs from other English-speaking countries.

1. Understanding British Lunch Culture

If you have ever visited the United Kingdom, you may have noticed that the country has a unique lunch culture. Unlike other countries where lunch is seen as a mere break from work or school, the British have a long-standing tradition of taking lunch seriously. Lunchtime is seen as an important social event, and people generally take their time to enjoy their meals. During this time, conversations flow freely, and people catch up with each other.

British Lunch Culture

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2. What Do British Call Lunch?

The British have a unique way of referring to some of their meals, and lunch is no exception. In the UK, lunch is usually referred to as “lunch,” but there are also other informal terms that are used. The most common informal term is “dinner,” which can cause confusion among non-British people. However, dinner, in this context, does not refer to the last meal of the day or a formal sit-down meal. Instead, it refers to a light meal that is eaten around midday.

British Lunch Foods

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3. Common British Lunch Foods

The British have several traditional foods that are commonly eaten during lunch. One of the most popular lunch foods in the UK is the sandwich, which can be found in almost every cafe and restaurant. Other popular lunch foods include pies, soups, and salads. Fish and chips, another traditional British dish, is usually eaten during lunchtime or as a light early dinner.

Fish and Chips

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4. Lunch Eating Habits

In the UK, people usually take a break from work or school to have lunch. Lunchtime is usually around midday and can last for an hour or more. During this time, people may go to a cafe or restaurant to eat, or they may bring their packed lunches from home. Many people also eat their lunch at their desks while they work, which is becoming an increasingly common practice.

Lunch Break

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5. The Importance of Lunch Breaks

Taking regular lunch breaks is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Studies have shown that taking a break during the day can increase productivity and reduce stress levels. The UK government has also recognized the importance of lunch breaks and has made it mandatory for employers to give their employees a minimum of 20-minute break during their shift.

Lunch Break Benefits

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6. The Rise of Food Delivery Services

In recent years, the popularity of food delivery services has increased dramatically in the UK. These services allow people to order food online and have it delivered to their doorstep. This trend has become even more prevalent since the outbreak of COVID-19, as more people are working from home and need a convenient way to have their meals delivered.

Food Delivery UK

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7. Lunch Etiquette in the UK

In the UK, there are certain etiquette rules that are expected to be followed during lunchtime. For example, it is considered impolite to order the most expensive item on the menu if someone else is paying for the meal. It is also important to use cutlery correctly and not slurp or make loud chewing noises. Additionally, it is customary to offer to pay for the meal or split the bill with others at the table.

British Lunch Etiquette

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8. Regional Variations

While the tradition of lunch is widespread across the UK, there are slight regional variations in how it is approached. For example, in Scotland, lunch is sometimes referred to as “piece,” while in the north of England, it is called “snap.” Additionally, in certain parts of the country, it is common to have “afternoon tea” instead of lunch, which typically includes tea, sandwiches, and pastries.

Regional Variations in UK

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9. Timeless British Lunch Foods

Although the food landscape has changed considerably in recent years, some traditional British foods have stood the test of time. Some of these timeless treats include pork pies, sausage rolls, and ploughman’s lunches, which typically consist of bread, cheese, and pickles. Additionally, fish and chips, as mentioned earlier, remains a staple of British cuisine and continues to be a firm favorite for lunch.

Timeless British Lunch Foods

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10. Conclusion

In conclusion, lunch is an important part of British culture, and it is treated with respect and tradition. Although the British mostly refer to lunch as “lunch,” the term “dinner” is also used informally. There are several traditional lunch foods, and the lunchtime habits of people in the UK have changed over the years. However, lunch remains a vital part of the day, and people continue to enjoy their meals in various ways across the country.

What is Lunch in Britain?

Britain is famous for its diverse gastronomic culture, and the way they call their meals is no different. Lunch, which is a mid-day meal most commonly consumed between 12 pm and 2 pm, has different names across the UK, depending on the region and traditions. In this article, we will discuss the various names Brits use to refer to their mid-day meal.

Lunch or Dinner?

Before we delve into the various regional names for lunch in Britain, it’s worth mentioning that the British have different meal traditions depending on where they live. In some areas, they refer to lunch as dinner and dinner as tea, while others use lunch, dinner, and tea to denote specific meals.

Lunch vs. Dinner – The Great Debate

There has been a long-standing debate about whether the mid-day meal should be called lunch or dinner. While both terms are widely used across the UK, some Brits believe that dinner is the correct term for the mid-day meal. They believe that lunch should only be used to refer to a light meal taken during the workday, such as a sandwich or a salad.

What Do the Brits Call Lunch?

Now, let’s focus on the various names used to refer to lunch in Britain. Below are ten different names that Brits use to describe their mid-day meal.


As mentioned earlier, some Brits refer to their mid-day meal as dinner. This is common in the north of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. They differentiate between dinner and tea, where dinner is the larger meal, and tea is a lighter meal.


The most common term used to describe the mid-day meal is lunch. It is understood across the UK and is used in most formal settings. Lunch can be a quick sandwich or a hot meal, depending on the occasion and personal preference.


Some Brits prefer to have light snacks during their mid-day break instead of a full meal. These can include a variety of items such as fruit, nuts, or crisps. Snacking is also common in workplaces, where individuals may not have access to a full meal.


‘Butties’ is a colloquial term used in parts of northern England to describe a sandwich or a bread roll. A butty can be filled with a variety of toppings, from the traditional cheese and ham to more exotic options such as prawn cocktail or coronation chicken.

Ploughman’s Lunch

Ploughman’s lunch is a traditional British meal typically served during the mid-day break. It consists of cheese, bread, pickles, and salad. This meal was originally served to farm laborers who worked on the fields and needed something to fill them up for the rest of the day.

Packed Lunch

A packed lunch is a meal that is prepared at home and brought to work or school. Parents often pack lunches for their children to take to school, while adults may bring their own packed lunch to work. This option allows individuals to save money and have a healthy meal of their own choice.

Jacket Potato

A jacket potato, also known as a baked potato, is a popular mid-day meal option in Britain. It is a simple and filling meal consisting of a baked potato filled with toppings such as cheese, beans, or tuna mayonnaise.

Cornish Pasty

The Cornish pasty is a traditional British pastry that originated in Cornwall. It is a savory pastry made from beef, potatoes, onions, and swede, all wrapped in a light and flaky crust. This meal is perfect for a mid-day break and can be eaten hot or cold.


Curry is a popular mid-day meal option in Britain, especially in the larger cities. It has become an integral part of British cuisine, with various regions of the country offering their own distinct versions. Curry can be a quick and easy meal to grab during a short break, or it can be enjoyed as a longer and more relaxed meal.

Ploughman's Lunch Image


Traditional British Lunch:

When it comes to lunchtime in Britain, there are a variety of traditional foods that are commonly consumed. These meals are typically hearty and filling, designed to keep people going throughout the rest of their day. Below are some popular lunchtime dishes in the UK:

Ploughman’s Lunch

Ploughman's Lunch

The Ploughman’s Lunch is a meal that consists of several traditional items such as cheese, bread, pickle and fruit. The dish originated in the 1960s and has since become a favourite of many British people. It’s quick and easy to prepare, and can be taken on-the-go.

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash is a classic British dish, served either in a pub or at home. It consists of sausages, usually Cumberland or Lincoln type sausages, served with mashed potatoes, onion gravy and peas. The meal is loved for its simplicity and comforting nature.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips is a British staple that has been around for centuries. It consists of battered fish, usually cod or haddock, served with chips (French fries) and mushy peas. The dish is often served in a paper wrapper, making it perfect for eating on-the-go.

Cornish Pasty

Cornish Pasty

The Cornish Pasty is a pastry that originated in Cornwall. It consists of a savoury filling, such as beef, potato, onion and swede, wrapped in pastry. The pastry is then baked until golden brown. The Cornish Pasty is great for a quick lunch as it’s easy to transport and can be eaten hot or cold.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a classic British dish that is perfect for lunchtime. It consists of minced lamb and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven until golden brown. The dish is often served with a side of peas or carrots.

Dish Ingredients Origin
Ploughman’s Lunch Cheese, bread, pickle, fruit UK
Bangers and Mash Sausages, mashed potatoes, onion gravy, peas UK
Fish and Chips Battered fish, chips, mushy peas UK
Cornish Pasty Beef, potato, onion, swede, pastry Cornwall, UK
Shepherd’s Pie Minced lamb, vegetables, mashed potatoes UK

Looking for traditional British lunch options? These are just a few of the classic meals that you’ll find in the UK. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite on-the-go or a more substantial meal, there’s something to suit every taste bud.

Here is a list of relevant links based on the given json list:

1. Learn more about British cuisine including what they call lunch by checking out this article on traditional British foods.

2. Discover the different naming conventions for meals in different English-speaking countries by reading this Kings News article on meal names.

3. Get insights into cultural differences between UK and US meal names by reading this Business Insider article.

4. For a more detailed overview of British language and food, this FluentU blog post covers a range of topics from commonly used food vocabulary to regional variations.

5. Find out more about the history of British meal names and where they originated from by reading this BBC article on the subject.

6. Visit this The Spruce Eats webpage for a collection of traditional British recipes that you can make for lunch or dinner.

Thanks for joining us for lunch, mate!

That’s all for now, folks! We hope you enjoyed learning all about the different words British folks use for their midday meal. Whether you fancy a butty, a sarnie, or just straight-up lunch, we’re sure you’ll find something delicious to keep you fueled for the day ahead. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back soon for more fun and informative articles on all things British! Cheers!

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