Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 123 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUNCHEON, in present usage the name given to a meal between breakfast and tea or dinner. When dinner was taken at an early hour, or when it is still the principal midday meal, luncheon was and is still a light repast. The derivation of the word has been obscured, chiefly owing to the attempted connexion with " nuncheon," with which the word has nothing to do etymologically. " Luncheon " is an extended form of " lunch " (another form of " lump," as " hunch " is of " hump "). Lunch and luncheon in the earliest meanings found are applied to a thick piece of bread, bacon, meat, &c. The word " nuncheon," or " nunchion," with which "luncheon" has been frequently connected, appears as early as the 14th century in the form noneschenche. This meant a refreshment or distribution, properly of drink, but also accompanied with some small quantity of meat, taken in the early afternoon. The word means literally " noon-drink," from none or noon, i.e. nona hora, the ninth hour, originally 3 o'clock P.M., but later " midday "—the church office of "nones," and also the second meal of the day, having been shifted back—and schenchen, to pour out; cf. German schenken, which means to retail drink and to give, present. Schenche is the same as "shank," the shin-bone, and the sense development appears to be shin-bone, pipe, hence tap for drawing liquor. See also Skeat, Etymological Dict. of English Language (1910), S.V. " nunchion."
End of Article: LUNCHEON

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