• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. the food served and eaten especially at one of the customary, regular occasions for taking food during the day, as breakfast, lunch, or supper.
  2. one of these regular occasions or times for eating food.

Origin of meal1

before 900; Middle English; Old English mǣl measure, fixed time, occasion, meal; cognate with German Mal time, Mahl meal, Old Norse māl, Gothic mēl time, hour
Related formsmeal·less, adjective


  1. a coarse, unsifted powder ground from the edible seeds of any grain: wheat meal; cornmeal.
  2. any ground or powdery substance, as of nuts or seeds, resembling this.

Origin of meal2

before 900; Middle English mele, Old English melu; cognate with German Mehl, Dutch meel, Old Norse mjǫl; akin to Gothic malan, Latin molere to grind. See mill1
Related formsmeal·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for meals

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Here he cooked and ate his meals, and here he spent his solitary evenings.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • If it will make you feel more independent, you may pay for your meals.

  • If you miss any meals, your ticket is good until it is punched.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • You feel sleepy after your meals, and willingly enjoy a nap?

  • But when they sat at meals, loosening their armor buckles, then there would be news.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

British Dictionary definitions for meals


    1. any of the regular occasions, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc, when food is served and eaten
    2. (in combination)mealtime Related adjective: prandial
  1. the food served and eaten
  2. make a meal of informal to perform (a task) with unnecessarily great effort

Word Origin

Old English mǣl measure, set time, meal; related to Old High German māl mealtime


  1. the edible part of a grain or pulse (excluding wheat) ground to a coarse powder, used chiefly as animal food
  2. Scot oatmeal
  3. mainly US maize flour
Derived Formsmeal-less, adjective

Word Origin

Old English melu; compare Dutch meel, Old High German melo, Old Norse mjöl
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for meals



"food; time for eating," c.1200 (perhaps late Old English), mel "appointed time for eating," also "a meal, feast," from Old English mæl "fixed time, occasion, a meal," from Proto-Germanic *mæla- (cf. Old Frisian mel "time;" Middle Dutch mael, Dutch maal "time, meal;" Old Norse mal "measure, time, meal;" German Mal "time," Mahl "meal;" Gothic mel "time, hour"), from PIE *me-lo-, from root *me- "to measure" (see meter (n.2)). Original sense of "time" is preserved in piecemeal. Meals-on-wheels attested from 1961. Meal ticket first attested 1870 in literal sense of "ticket of admission to a dining hall;" figurative sense of "source of income or livelihood" is from 1899.



"edible ground grain," Old English melu "meal, flour," from West Germanic *melwan "grind" (cf. Old Frisian mele "meal," Old Saxon melo, Middle Dutch mele, Dutch meel, Old High German melo, German Mehl, Old Norse mjöl "meal;" Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic malan "to grind," German mahlen), from PIE root *mele- "to grind" (see mallet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with meals


In addition to the idiom beginning with meal

; also see

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

  • About
  • Cookies, Terms, & Privacy
© 2018 Dictionary.com, LLC.