“square meal”

A square meal, as you probably know, is a nutritious meal; one which is big enough to satisfy your hunger. In India, we are often told that we must have three such meals every day! The origin of the expression dates back to the 18th century when living conditions on ships were terrible. British sailors were given very little to eat. Breakfast and lunch consisted of a few slices of bread and a beverage. Dinner, however, was something more substantial; it included meat and a few other items. Unlike breakfast and lunch, dinner was served on a tray. Guess what the shape of the tray was? Yes, it was square. Hence the expression, “square meal”. This is one of the theories going around.

The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, August 23, 2004

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