Yesterday, one of my friend updated his status Eating lunch at a hotel.
I thought that Having lunch at a hotel is correct.

So, I did a quick search on Google and got mixed responses.
Google fetched about 15,90,00,000 results for eat lunch. While, for have lunch, it fetched around 42,50,00,000 results.
From these results, it is sure that both are used. But, Is it correct?
Can one eat lunch? Because, lunch is not food itself, one cannot eat it.


Can one eat lunch? Because, lunch is not food itself, one cannot eat it.

I think lunch does not only refer to the time one eats the food, it can certainly refer to the food. And merriam-webster agrees with me:

1: a usually light meal; especially : one taken in the middle of the day
2: the food prepared for a lunch

So, analogous to meal, breakfast, dinner, on can certainly have it and eat it.

In contrast, this doesn't work with cake:

You can't have your cake and eat it.

It seems that with meals, which we can have, the meaning has shifted (or grown) to include also the specific food to be served at the meal, and because of that, we can also eat a meal. But food can be either had or eaten, where having the food does not imply eating it. So the extension of meaning only works in one direction, from meal to food, and not from food to meal. That said, on can order a steak by saying I'll have the steak, please, but strictly speaking, the fact that you probably intend to eat it once they give it to you is only implied.

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    Am confused. So, which one is proper in this case? Eating lunch at a hotel or Having lunch at a hotel. – Rohith Aug 22 '14 at 6:29
  • For ordering, I'll also say I'll have one steak, please. – Rohith Aug 22 '14 at 6:31
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    @Rohith: Both are correct! There is not always “just one right way” to say something :) – oerkelens Aug 22 '14 at 6:48

I think we can say eating food instead of eating lunch and having lunch is correct I eat my lunch, I eat my dinner, and I sometimes remember to eat breakfast. is correct.(I'm having lunch but I'm not eating it.) "Having lunch" may be an occasion. "Let's have lunch." "Let's eat lunch" might be used when the food is "at hand" but no one is eating.

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  • So, you are saying that having lunch means, a person have the lunch with him/her, and that person may or may-not be eating it. – Rohith Aug 22 '14 at 6:41
  • burm1 is onto something here. Eating lunch means specifically putting food into your mouth and chewing, whereas having lunch can include the table conversation, catching up one the news etc. – dwjohnston Aug 26 '14 at 4:08

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