From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishmealmeal /miːl/ ●●● S2 W2 noun 1 [countable]DF an occasion when you eat food, for example breakfast or dinner, or the food that you eat on that occasion We must have a meal together some time. Dinner is the main meal of the day for most people.2 [uncountable]DFTA grain that has been crushed into a powder, for making flour or animal food → bonemeal3 → make a meal (out) of somethingCOLLOCATIONSverbshave a meal (=eat a meal)We usually have our evening meal fairly early.eat a mealWhen they had eaten their meal, they went out for a walk.cook/make a meal (also prepare a meal formal)Who cooks most of the meals?serve a mealThe bar serves snacks and meals.fix a meal informal especially American English (=make a meal)go (out) for a mealHow about going out for a meal tonight?take somebody (out) for a mealHe took Anna out for a meal and then to the theatre.ADJECTIVES/NOUN + mealan evening/midday mealThe evening meal is served at 7.30.the main mealThey had their main meal at lunchtime.a three-course/five-course etc meal (=a meal with several separate parts)a three-course meal, including appetizer and desserta good meal (=a meal that is large enough and tastes good)We’ll get a good meal there.a decent meal/a square meal (also a proper meal British English) (=with enough good food to satisfy you)I hadn’t had a decent meal in days.a big/large mealWe don’t have a big meal at lunchtime, usually just sandwiches.a hot mealWith a hot meal inside me, I began to feel better.a delicious meal‘It was a delicious meal, ’ Merrill said politely.a heavy meal (=with a lot of rich food)A heavy meal is likely to make you feel sleepy.a light meal (=with not a lot of food)a light meal of salada simple meala simple meal of soup and breada balanced meal (=with some of each type of food, to keep you healthy)We make healthy, balanced meals for our children.a gourmet meal (=one with very nice and often complicated food)The day ended with a gourmet meal in a good restaurant.a slap-up meal British English informal (=a good meal)Jennie cooked us a slap-up meal.a full meal (=a complete meal)I’m not hungry enough to eat a full meal.a healthy mealHealthy meals can still be quick and easy to prepare.a school meal (=provided by a school)Many of the children are receiving free school meals.regular meals (=ones that are eaten at the same time each day)Patients are advised to eat regular meals.COMMON ERRORS ► Don’t say ‘take a meal’. Say have a meal.THESAURUStypes of mealbreakfast a meal that you eat in the morningbrunch a meal that you eat in the late morning, instead of breakfast or lunchlunch a meal that you eat in the middle of the daytea British English a meal that you eat in the afternoon or eveningdinner the main meal of the day, which most people eat in the eveningsupper a small meal that you eat in the evening, in British English; the main meal that you eat in the evening, in American Englishpicnic a meal that you eat outdoors, consisting of food that you cooked or prepared earlierbarbecue a meal that you cook outdoors over hot coals or wood and eat outdoorssnack a small amount of food that is eaten between main meals or instead of a mealside dish food eaten with the main course, such as vegetablesI’ll have the salad as a side dish.course one of the separate parts of a meal, such as the starter or the desserta three-course mealparts of a large mealhors d'oeuvre (also starter British English, appetizer American English) the small first part of a meala tempting plate of hors d'oeuvres including olives and small pieces of roast beetrootmain course (also entrée especially American English) the main part of a meal. entrée is used especially on restaurant menusFor the main course we had cheese and onion pie. The menu includes a few hot entrées.dessert (also pudding British English or sweet British English) sweet food eaten at the end of a mealWhat do you want for dessert?They serve a wide range of desserts, including ice cream and home-made apple pie.
Examples from the Corpusmeal• Would you like to go out for a meal sometime, Emma?• It was Lisa's birthday so we took her out for a meal.• All meals are available in the Feathertonehaugh dining room.• You shouldn't exercise after a big meal.• Jeff cooked us a delicious meal last night.• Wipe kitchen counters after each meal.• Having informed him that the evening meal was at eight, the proprietor took himself off, leaving Karelius with his thoughts.• We had an excellent meal in a Chinese restaurant.• a five-course gourmet meal• We usually have our main meal in the middle of the day.• It's eight dollars for my meal, without the tip.• I usually have one meal a day with Mom and Dad.• Many of these patients claim that they can not be fat because they eat only one meal a day.• The other things must be matters connected with the sacred meal.• The hotel was nice, and the meals were really good.• She began to cook the meal, briefly wondering how her own household was coping without her.• Miriam was silent all through the meal.• From seven grateful clients, Project Open Hand soon grew to a charity serving eight thousand meals a day.