[luhnch] /lʌntʃ/

a light midday meal between breakfast and dinner; .
any light meal or snack.
a restaurant or :
Let’s eat at the dairy lunch.
verb (used without object)
to eat lunch:
We lunched quite late today.
verb (used with object)
to provide lunch for:
They lunched us in regal fashion.
out to lunch, Slang. not paying attention or tending to business; negligent:
You must have been out to lunch when you wrote that weird report.
a meal eaten during the middle of the day
(Caribbean) (among older people) mid-afternoon tea
(intransitive) to eat lunch
(transitive) to provide or buy lunch for

“mid-day repast,” 1786, shortened form of luncheon (q.v.). The verb meaning “to take to lunch” (said to be from the noun) also is attested from 1786:

PRATTLE. I always to be ſure, makes a point to keep up the dignity of the family I lives in. Wou’d you take a more ſolid refreſhment?–Have you lunch’d, Mr. Bribe?

BRIBE. Lunch’d O dear! Permit me, my dear Mrs. Prattle, to refreſh my sponge, upon the honey dew that clings to your raviſhing pouters. O! Mrs. Prattle, this ſhall be my lunch. (kiſſes)

[“The Mode,” in William Davies’ “Plays Written for a Private Theatre,” London, 1786]

But as late as 1817 the only definition of lunch in Webster’s is “a large piece of food.” OED says in 1820s the word “was regarded either as a vulgarism, or as a fashionable affectation.” Related: Lunched; lunching. Lunch money is attested from 1868; lunch-time (n.) is from 1821; lunch hour is from 1840. Slang phrase out to lunch “insane, stupid, clueless” first recorded 1955, on notion of being “not there.” Old English had nonmete “afternoon meal,” literally “noon-meat.”


Related Terms

eat someone’s lunch, out to lunch, shoot one’s cookies


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  • Luncheon club

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