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"food; time for eating," c.1200 (perhaps late Old English), mel "appointed time for eating," also "a meal, feast," from Old English mæl "fixed time, occasion, a meal," from Proto-Germanic *mæla- (cf. Old Frisian mel "time;" Middle Dutch mael, Dutch maal "time, meal;" Old Norse mal "measure, time, meal;" German Mal "time," Mahl "meal;" Gothic mel "time, hour"), from PIE *me-lo-, from root *me- "to measure" (see meter (n.2)). Original sense of "time" is preserved in piecemeal. Meals-on-wheels attested from 1961. Meal ticket first attested 1870 in literal sense of "ticket of admission to a dining hall;" figurative sense of "source of income or livelihood" is from 1899.
"edible ground grain," Old English melu "meal, flour," from West Germanic *melwan "grind" (cf. Old Frisian mele "meal," Old Saxon melo, Middle Dutch mele, Dutch meel, Old High German melo, German Mehl, Old Norse mjöl "meal;" Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic malan "to grind," German mahlen), from PIE root *mele- "to grind" (see mallet).
meal 1 (mēl)
The edible whole or coarsely ground grains of a cereal grass.
A granular substance produced by grinding.
The food served and eaten in one sitting.
A customary time or occasion of eating food.
are at the present day "eaten from a round table little higher than a stool, guests sitting cross-legged on mats or small carpets in a circle, and dipping their fingers into one large dish heaped with a mixture of boiled rice and other grain and meat. But in the time of our Lord, and perhaps even from the days of Amos (6:4, 7), the foreign custom had been largely introduced of having broad couches, forming three sides of a small square, the guests reclining at ease on their elbows during meals, with their faces to the space within, up and down which servants passed offering various dishes, or in the absence of servants, helping themselves from dishes laid on a table set between the couches." Geikie's Life of Christ. (Comp. Luke 7:36-50.) (See ABRAHAM'S BOSOM ØT0000055; BANQUET ØT0000434; FEAST.)