See also: -meal

English edit

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /miːl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /mil/, [miəɫ]
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːl

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English mel, from Old English mǣl (measure, time, occasion, set time, time for eating, meal), from Proto-West Germanic *māl, from Proto-Germanic *mēlą, from Proto-Indo-European *meh₁- (to measure).

Cognate with West Frisian miel, Dutch maal (meal, time, occurrence), German Mal (time), Mahl (meal), Norwegian Bokmål mål (meal), Swedish mål (meal); and (from Proto-Indo-European) with Ancient Greek μέτρον (métron, measure), Latin mensus, Russian ме́ра (méra, measure), Lithuanian mẽtas. Related to Old English mǣþ (measure, degree, proportion).

Noun edit

meal (countable and uncountable, plural meals)

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  1. (countable) Food that is prepared and eaten, usually at a specific time, and usually in a comparatively large quantity (as opposed to a snack).
    Breakfast is the morning meal, lunch is the noon meal, and dinner, or supper, is the evening meal.
  2. (countable) Food served or eaten as a repast.
    • a1450, The Macro Playsː
      If thou wilt fare well at meat and meal, come and follow me.
    • 1855 July 4, Walt Whitman, “[Song of Myself]”, in Leaves of Grass, Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.: [James and Andrew Rome], →OCLC, page 25:
      This is the meal pleasantly set . . . . this is the meat and drink for natural hunger, / It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous . . . .
    • 2012 March-April, Anna Lena Phillips, “Sneaky Silk Moths”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 172:
      Last spring, the periodical cicadas emerged across eastern North America. Their vast numbers and short above-ground life spans inspired awe and irritation in humans—and made for good meals for birds and small mammals.
  3. (uncountable, informal) A break taken by a police officer in order to eat.
    • 1994, Brooklyn Barrister, volume 46, page 13:
      They [tape recorders] can be turned off while officers are on meal or in the car to protect their private conversations []
    • 2019, R. J. Noonan, In the Line of Fire:
      “I was on meal when I heard the call on the radio and recognized the address. What the hell?”
  4. (obsolete) A time or an occasion.
    • The Lamentation of the Virgin Mary (MS. Cantab., Ff. ii., 38, fol. 47.), in: 1847, Thomas Wright (editor), The Chester Plays: A Collection of Mysteries founded upon scriptural Subjects, and formerly represented by the Trades of Chester at Whitsuntide, vol. II, p. 208f.:
      Ye wolde wepe at every mele;
      But for my sone wepe ye never a dele.
      You would weep at every meal, but for my son you never weep a deal.
    • a1400?-a1470?, in: 1999/2006, The Governance of England: Otherwise called The Difference between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy. By Sir John Fortescue. A Revised Text edited with Introduction, Notes, and Appendices by Charles Plummer, p. 132:
      [] by occasion whereoff thai woll than at every mele groche with the kinge []
      [] by occasion whereof they will, then at every meal, grouch with the king []
    • a1450, Henry Lovelich, The History of the Holy Grailː
      Which was to them a sorry meal.
    • a1450, Henry Lovelich, Merlinː
      Also soon as the dragons together feal, betwixt them shall begin a sorry meal.
    • a1450, The York Playsː
      What mean ye.. to make mourning at ilk a meal?
    • 1481, William Caxton, Reynard the Foxː
      I shall do late you have so much that ten of you should not eat it at one meal.
    • a1500, Alexander-Cassamus Fragmentː
      Of all the day throughout, keep I no better meal than on her to think.
    • c1500, In A Chyrchː
      Thou couth well weep at every meal.
Usage notes edit
  • In the fourth sense, meal is a fossil word and is usually found in the archaic/obsolete phrase "at every (ilk a) meal" meaning "on every occasion", compare also "at ilk a tide". It fell out of common usage in the late 15th century. Also, "at one meal" sometimes meant at a time, at once, at one time or in one go; see also German auf einmal (literally upon one meal). "To keep (the) meal" probably used to mean "to use/spend one's time". A "sorry meal" used to mean a "grim occasion" such as a fight, setback, mishap or some sort of other misfortune.
  • Meal, in the sense of "time" or "occasion", also survives in other set phrases, such as piecemeal (one piece at a time), footmeal (one foot at a time), heapmeal (in large numbers) etc.
Hyponyms edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit
References edit

The Middle English Dictionary

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English mele, from Old English melu (meal, flour), from Proto-West Germanic *melu, from Proto-Germanic *melwą (meal, flour), from Proto-Indo-European *melh₂- (to grind, mill).

Noun edit

meal (countable and uncountable, plural meals)

  1. The coarse-ground edible part of various grains often used to feed animals; flour or a coarser blend than flour.
    Coordinate term: flour
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Verb edit

meal (third-person singular simple present meals, present participle mealing, simple past and past participle mealed)

  1. (intransitive, obsolete) To yield or be plentiful in meal.
    • 1876, Notes and Queries, page 73:
      Of course the yield of grain was small, but much greater than could have been expected; and, the ears being well filled, it mealed well. The pastures were burnt up, so that there was nothing left for the cattle to eat.

Etymology 3 edit

Variation of mole (compare Scots mail), from Middle English mole, mool, from Old English māl, mǣl (spot, mark, blemish), from Proto-Germanic *mailą (wrinkle, spot), from Proto-Indo-European *mey- (to soil). More at mole.

Noun edit

meal (plural meals)

  1. (UK dialectal) A speck or spot.
  2. A part; a fragment; a portion.

Verb edit

meal (third-person singular simple present meals, present participle mealing, simple past and past participle mealed)

  1. (transitive) To defile or taint.

Anagrams edit

Aromanian edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Albanian mal,[1] cognate to Aromanian mal and Romanian mal with the same origin.

Noun edit

meal n (plural mealuri)

  1. steep, scarped shore region
  2. (figurative) boondocks

References edit

Irish edit

Verb edit

meal (present analytic mealann, future analytic mealfaidh, verbal noun mealadh, past participle mealta)

  1. Alternative form of meil (to grind)

Conjugation edit

Mutation edit

Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
meal mheal not applicable
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Northern Kurdish edit

Noun edit

meal ?

  1. meaning

Romansch edit

Noun edit

meal m

  1. (Sutsilvan) Alternative form of mel (honey)

Scottish Gaelic edit

Etymology edit

From Middle Irish melaid (to consume), from Old Irish melaid (to grind), from Proto-Celtic *meleti (to grind), from Proto-Indo-European *melh₂-. Doublet of meil.

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

meal (past mheal, future mealaidh, verbal noun mealadh or mealtainn, past participle mealte)

  1. enjoy

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit