As was previously documented on Lost in the Pond, there are a great many British food items that remain unfamiliar to the collective tooth of the United States. Further to that, we have seen that an inordinate amount of food items go by entirely different names, depending on which side of the Pond one is on. Perhaps less discussed, however, are those British words directly synonymous with the various meal times. Below are six such words that are not widely used in the United States.
Following in the grand footsteps of similarly abbreviated words such as Chrimbo (for Christmas) and ciggies (for cigarettes), brekkie is merely a shortened version of breakfast. e.g. Jack? Make us some beans on toast for brekkie, would ya?
In the United States, the meal that immediately precedes the main course at a restaurant is known, quite logically, as an appetizer. However, in the UK, where—for once—an equal degree of logic is applied, there are two preferred terms. One of these is starter. e.g. Would you care for a starter before your main course arrives? For the other of the two words, see the next entry on the list.
Or should I say "the next entrée on the list?" This word is not itself absent from American English, but its meaning is much different in the States. Indeed Americans—along with their Canadian neighbours—use entrée to refer to the main course, especially one that is meat-oriented. The U.S. and Canada are, however, the only known countries to maintain this archaic usage, with most English speakers adopting the French position. e.g. Would you care for an entrée before your main course arrives?
Here's where it gets a little complicated. You see, some of the everyday expressions we assign in the UK to particular meal times are not always uniform across the UK itself. Dinner is one such example. In most of the south, dinner—just as it does in the U.S.—refers specifically to the evening meal. However, in the north, dinner can often mean lunch. e.g. Do you want to go and get some dinner? Breakfast didn't really hit the spot.
Here's where it gets monstrously complicated. Because people in the north are apt to do number 4, an entirely different word is needed to refer to the evening meal. This word—despite the nation's widespread penchant for the hot drink of the same name—is tea (also used in the same sense in Scotland and parts of Australia). Historically, this usage stems from the practice of high tea and afternoon tea. e.g. Your tea is in the oven. We'll eat it when your dad gets home from work.
While both countries refer to this sweet post-dinner course as a "dessert", the British also use the word afters. The Septic's Companion states that this term was named not for the fact that dessert comes after the main course, but for Sir George After, the fat bastard of Brighton. However, a cursory search for the keywords "Sir George After" yield no conclusive results outside of the Septic Companion entry. Therefore, the etymology of the phrase remains in doubt. e.g. Did anyone save room in their bellies for afters?
With British slang being the wonderful tome of alternatives that it is, afters is not the only way of referring to dessert. Indeed, the word pudding, which can also refer to a specific type of food item (such as sticky toffee pudding or, quite confusingly, main course items such as Yorkshire pudding) is used in the general sense to mean "dessert". e.g. Did anyone save room in their bellies for pudding?
What other UK meal time words and phrases are there? Are there any American equivalents that are not used in the UK? Let us know in the comments below.