1 [meel]
the food served and eaten especially at one of the customary, regular occasions for taking food during the day, as breakfast, lunch, or supper.
one of these regular occasions or times for eating food.

before 900; Middle English; Old English mǣl measure, fixed time, occasion, meal; cognate with German Mal time, Mahl meal, Old Norse māl, Gothic mēl time, hour

mealless, adjective Unabridged


2 [meel]
a coarse, unsifted powder ground from the edible seeds of any grain: wheat meal; cornmeal.
any ground or powdery substance, as of nuts or seeds, resembling this.

before 900; Middle English mele, Old English melu; cognate with German Mehl, Dutch meel, Old Norse mjǫl; akin to Gothic malan, Latin molere to grind. See mill1

mealless, adjective


a native English combining form, now unproductive, denoting a fixed measure at a time: piecemeal.

Middle English -mele, Old English -mǣlum, combining form representing mǣl meal1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
meal1 (miːl)
1.  a.  any of the regular occasions, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc, when food is served and eaten
 b.  (in combination): mealtime Related: prandial
2.  the food served and eaten
3.  informal make a meal of to perform (a task) with unnecessarily great effort
Related: prandial
[Old English mǣl measure, set time, meal; related to Old High German māl mealtime]

meal2 (miːl)
1.  the edible part of a grain or pulse (excluding wheat) ground to a coarse powder, used chiefly as animal food
2.  (Scot) oatmeal
3.  chiefly (US) maize flour
[Old English melu; compare Dutch meel, Old High German melo, Old Norse mjöl]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"food, time for eating," O.E. mæl "fixed time, a measure, meal," from P.Gmc. *mæla- (cf. Du. maal "time, meal," O.N. mal "measure, time, meal," Ger. Mal "time," Goth. mel "time, hour"), from PIE base *me- "to measure" (see meter (2)). Probably related to O.E.
mæð "measure." Original sense of "time" is preserved in piecemeal; once a more common suffix, e.g. O.E. styccemælum "bit by bit," gearmælum "year by year." Meals-on-wheels attested from 1961. Meal ticket first attested 1870 in lit. sense of "ticket of admission to a dining hall;" fig. sense of "source of income or livelihood" is from 1899.

"ground grain," O.E. melu, from W.Gmc. *melwan "grind" (cf. Ger. malen "to grind," Mehl "meal"), from PIE base *mel-/*mol-/*ml- "to grind, soft" (cf. Hittite mallanzi "they grind," Arm. malem "I crush, bruise," Gk. malakos "soft," Alb. miel "meal, flour," L. molere "to grind," O.C.S. meljo, Lith. malu
"to grind;" see mill (1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

meal 1 (mēl)

  1. The edible whole or coarsely ground grains of a cereal grass.

  2. A granular substance produced by grinding.

meal 2

  1. The food served and eaten in one sitting.

  2. A customary time or occasion of eating food.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with meal; also see square meal.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences for meal
For many, their next meal was found at a soup kitchen, if at all.
It is common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.
Bay leaves are used scattered in pantries to repel meal moths.
It is eaten as a savoury dish, either on the side or as a main meal.
Idioms & Phrases
Images for meal
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