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a meal served in the evening which consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast
'For Hayley, the popularity of brinner is all about how comforting it is. "There's something about eggs and beans for dinner that is so incredibly nostalgic: childhood tea-time comfort food" …'Telegraph 5th March 2015
We Brits often talk about a dog's breakfast, or alternatively a dog's dinner, when describing something messy or badly handled. And if a new gastronomic trend begins to exert some linguistic influence, it seems we might also one day have the option of hedging our bets with a dog's brinner.
it seems that we've finally cottoned on to the idea that we don't have to restrict breakfast cuisine to the part of the day when we're least likely to have the time to eat it
Eggs, bacon and sausages, pancakes, waffles, bowls of breakfast cereal – chocolatey or healthy. These are all foods which many of us enjoy eating but which, in principle at least, are not supposed to surface beyond noon. But thankfully there's now a culinary craze which is beginning to change all that – meet the concept of brinner, where you're allowed to enjoy the delights of something like a 'full English' (= bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, fried bread …) with a glass of wine at the opposite end of the day. Both lexically and gastronomically, brinner is a fusion of breakfast and dinner. It's the idea of eating breakfast foods as your main meal in the evening, so isn't quite the same as brunch (which is usually eaten late morning and often carries the expectation of a further, 'proper' meal later in the day).
What's for brinner? Well, eggs are, of course, a brinner staple, whether fried, scrambled, poached, or part of more sophisticated options such as Eggs Benedict and signature restaurant dishes like the one from London's 'Duck & Waffle', which consists of fried duck egg, crispy duck leg and mustard maple syrup – wow! The Duck & Waffle is in fact one of a number of dedicated brinner restaurants which have recently sprung up in an attempt to capitalize on our apparent crush on breakfast food. Though it's not all about the fry-ups – for instance the cheekily named 'Cereal Killer Cafe', also in London, claims to offer as many as 100 cereals with the option of 12 different kinds of milk. But it's in our own kitchens that the brinner idea seems to be really taking off, with many of the UK's supermarkets reporting a sharp rise in sales of eggs, bacon, ready-made pancakes and the like. It seems that we've finally cottoned on to the idea that we don't have to restrict breakfast cuisine to the part of the day when we're least likely to have the time to eat it – instead, we can kick back in the evening, relax, and enjoy a slap-up brinner.
The concept of consuming breakfast foods at dinnertime is of course nothing new. Many of us, young or old, have been regularly eating snacks such as toast, eggs or bowls of cereal into the evening. What is new however is the idea of breakfast foods as something a little more sophisticated, a cuisine to be savoured and even associated with restaurant dining, hence the emergence of the term brinner. The word has been used since the mid-2000s in the US, where the concept is more established, but has only surfaced in British English more recently as the trend gained momentum in the UK.
Brinner is of course modelled on the earlier word brunch, one of the most established and popularly recognized examples of a portmanteau in the English language. Brunch was coined in Britain in the 1890s, allegedly in connection with an article by writer Guy Beringer in the magazine Hunter's Weekly, which promoted the idea of a late morning meal eaten in preference to a heavy Sunday lunch after Saturday night partying and drinking.
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This article was first published on 12th May 2015.