Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Word Mystery: lunch / comida / déjeuner


Wednesdays, I explore the linguistic origins of the same word in different languages.

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite meal of the day as I basically love eating at any time. Lunch is a little bit special for me though since there are whole rituals around it if you bring your own. Because I am kind of a jerk (I am Spanish, after all), if I’m going to go through the trouble of packing something, I want it to be worth the effort and impressive-seeming, even if just to me.

Here’s a good one I whipped up recently which didn’t require any real work on my part since all I did was boil the pasta, then add some artichoke “pesto” and stuffed peppers. No skills or prep work and I got to have a lovely meal out of my totally sweet lunch bag, out of my super cute lunch container and I smiled as I chewed.

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Life is sometimes good, but lunch is pretty much always good.

EN lunch — a meal eaten in the middle of the day, typically one that is lighter or less formal than an evening meal. ORIGIN abbreviation of luncheon, this possibly an extension of obsolete lunch ‘thick piece, hunk,’ from Spanish lonja [slice].

ES comida3. Alimento que se toma al mediodía o primeras horas de la tarde. [Food eaten at midday or in the early hours of the afternoon.] ORIGIN From the verb comer [to eat], this from Latin comedĕre [eat].

FR déjeunerrepas de midi. [Midday meal.] ORIGIN Probably from Latin disjejunare [break fast].

English note: get straight the hell out! “Lunch” comes from the Spanish “slice”?! I find this super doubtful but lovelovelove the idea for reasons I don’t understand. It seems so farfetched! But if it’s true… !!!

Spanish note: if you know some Spanish, you’re not crazy. Comida is also just “food.” I find this doubling up needlessly confusing.

French note: we’ve discussed fasting in some detail before but what I don’t know is when this meal got demoted and petit déjeuner got invented.

Choosing today’s winner is causing me some trouble. Obviously, the origin for the English is the best but since it’s Spanish, who gets the win? Looking back on old posts, I feel like the modern word language gets the point, but I’m feeling like that’s a bit of a let down to la patria. Of course a Spanish Catalan guy just won the French Open, so they don’t need another win. English it is.


Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

6 thoughts on “Word Mystery: lunch / comida / déjeuner

  1. Interesting as usual. To put a twist to your post of today, in other French-speaking countries we don’t use “déjeuner” for the midday meal but “dîner” which is used in France for the night meal. In Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland (as far as I know), you have déjeuner, dîner and souper…which gets very confusing when living in France!!! (Suzanne)

    • This is interesting information. In the Midwest, we used “supper” and “dinner” interchangeably to refer to the evening meal, something that I think was part of the vernacular due to the area having been historically agricultural (“supper” being a thing that farmers ate). Maybe I’ll have to look into meal words more, especially since I just thought of another related WM! Too many ideas at once!

  2. Fascinating – I love your comparision of words. My fav language for lunch is Italian – il pranzo. It sounds like a dance (it isn’t though) as well as a meal. The verb is pranzare, which also sounds fun.

  3. This lunch looks very tasty!

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