Five English terms for having lunch

If you work the typical office hours of nine to five, it’s likely that you’re going to be eating lunch at some point during your workday. And if you’re not, you should consider it – you need food for energy in order to get your work done!

Since lunch is such an important part of your workday, today’s business English lesson features several different terms for different types of lunches you might take. Here I’ll introduce those terms and tell you a little bit about each type of lunch.

Working lunch

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A working lunch is exactly what it sounds like – a lunch taken while you work. When you’re really busy and facing deadlines, sometimes you’re going to have to work during your lunch hour! And on those occasions you’ll be having a working lunch.

Often you might buy a sandwich and a drink from a caterer or a vending machine and then take it back to your desk. In London, England, for example, it is quite common to head to a store that specializes in selling freshly made sandwiches and snacks that are assembled on shelves within the store, and to grab one and take it back to your desk. Marks & Spencer, or M&S, is one such store; there are plenty of them scattered throughout London and its suburbs. Pret A Manger is another example; translated from French into English, this store’s name means “Ready to Eat”.

A working lunch might also be called lunch at your desk.

Power lunch

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If you’re in a rush to get back to your desk, you could have a power lunch. This is a quick lunch that you might grab on the go, quickly inhaling your food before making it back to the office! Note that in this case you’re not really inhaling your food – that is an English expression that means you are eating your meal very quickly.

If you’re going to eat this sort of lunch make sure you get as healthy a lunch as possible – too often office workers grabbing power lunches tend to buy greasy fast food, as it is cheap and convenient, but eating too much of this sort of lunch can be unhealthy.

A power lunch might also be called lunch on the go.

Lunch-and-learn

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A lunch-and-learn is a special type of lunch where someone hosts a meeting during lunchtime to teach you something new. For example, if you work at a technology company, you might have a lunch-and-learn where you are taught about a useful project management technique, important company policies, or how to use a new piece of software. Normally these lunches are not catered (lunch is not provided); you will have to bring your own lunch to these meetings. When you bring your own lunch to a meeting it is often called a bag lunch (even if you do not carry it in a bag).

Free lunch

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What could be better than a free lunch? This is a lunch that is provided to you, normally by your employer or by a vendor (seller) working with your company, for free. In a working environment this type of lunch might also be called an expensed lunch (paid for by the company), or a lunch that is compensated . A catered lunch is also a meal that is paid for; this type of lunch normally involves a catering company bringing a cart of food and drinks into a meeting room where an all-day working or training session is being held.

A common expression in English is “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. This phrase doesn’t usually have anything to do with lunches! It means that if something is free, there is probably a hidden catch to it – for example, if you are offered a free vacation package, it might mean that during your vacation you are required to sit through all-day presentations for a time-share at a holiday resort.

Going out for lunch

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When someone says “let’s go out for lunch!” they are suggesting that you join them in going to a restaurant for lunch. These sorts of lunches are not considered dates, and when you go out to an informal lunch with your co-workers everyone is expected to pay for their own meal unless told otherwise. Paying for your own meal is sometimes called going Dutch in English, though this term is no longer commonly used.

To invite someone to lunch, you might also say, let’s go out to lunch, let’s go to lunch, or let’s do lunch. If you say it’s my treat, you are offering to pay for the other person’s lunch, or treating them to lunch.

And on that note…

After all this talking about lunch, I’m getting hungry… I’m going to stop typing up this post and go get something to eat. Have a good lunch, or as they say in French, “bon appetit!”

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