small French lunch




Here’s un petit question from Amy:

We are having a debate in the office – how do French people say they’re having a small lunch, if that expression is already bagsied?

As in petit dejeuner, literally small lunch but meaning breakfast? Usually the adjective follows the noun in French, so would that make small lunch ‘un dejeuner petit’? Readers with working knowledge of French, am I right? Help me out in the comments, because I haven’t spoken French since 1994 and my memory is mauvais.


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8 Responses to “small French lunch”

  1. Wagner Says:

    Asked a friend of mine who is French speaker, married to a French woman and eats French quick lunches 😉

    His answer is:

    UN DEJEUNER LEGER is a light lunch (couple of courses, no alcohol) and a CASSE CROUTE is also a light ‘fast’ meal more eaten on the hoof (ie packed lunch, snack, ….)

    Hope it’s helpful.

    An appreciative listener.


  2. Will Says:

    Mauvais, mechant, villain, beau, petit, haut, vieux, joli, gros (it rhymes!) go before the noun?

  3. Grégoire Says:

    “Petit” is indeed always placed before the noun. “Déjeuner léger” or “déjeuner rapide” sounds good to me; a more idiomatic verbal form would be “déjeuner/manger sur le pouce” (lit. “on the thumb”).

  4. ferulang Says:

    Merci beaucoup for the nice post 🙂 I am passioned with the french language. If you want, you could check my new blog, I aslo write in french. Maybe you’ll find something interesting there 🙂

  5. petermcgladdery Says:

    This forum suggests “léger” too

    You can see it used in this women’s magazine segment of le figaro

    Also uses verbal form “déjeuner quelque chose de léger”

    Being French, they’d focus on the content, not the physical dimensions. Or you’d quantify the food you’re having for lunch rather than saying the lunch (which is more of an abstract idea or an appointment) itself is small.

    For added confusion, there’s a regional thing. In some regions (esp outside of France or in rural areas), both déjeuner and petit déjeuner mean the first meal of the day (“dé” being “to stop/reverse” and “jeuner” being “to fast”), with “dîner” in the middle of the day and “souper” at the end – compared with “petit déjeuner- déjeuner-dîner” which is what you’ll have learnt at school.

  6. loisabigail Says:

    I don’t know much French, but I do know that ‘petit’ is one of the adjectives that goes before the noun, so small lunch wouldn’t be ‘un déjeuner petit’. No idea what it would actually be, though.

  7. Colin Mc Ardle (@colinblackrock) Says:

    They say, “just the one bottle of wine today.”

  8. Seb D Says:

    you could say: déjeuner léger (light lunch) or casse-croûte (a snack)

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