I know that cena means dinner, prandium means lunch, and ientaculum means breakfast. But how do you say "I'm having dinner" (or lunch, or breakfast)? I can think of a few ideas, such as:

  • Habeo cenam. Habeo prandium. Habeo ientaculum.
  • Edo cenam. Edo prandium. Edo ientaculum.

But I really have no clue what is correct and idiomatic.

Lastly, how would you say "I'm having a snack", or "I'm eating dessert"? I recently read that merenda is the word for a snack, and secunda mensa is the word for dessert. But I wouldn't know what verb or expression to use.

1 Answer 1


Some meals have their own verbs: cenare, prandere, and others if I forget something. If you are having dinner or lunch, say ceno or prandeo.

All things edible do not have their own verbs — nor do I think one should derive a new verb for every food item. The crucial question is to find the best verb for these purposes. I propose sumere. The verb consumere is also possible, but it may be too intense, unless you "eat up" or "devour" your meal. These verbs work for both foods and drinks.

The verb edere is also good. I would probably use edere or sumere, depending on context.

I think habere is incorrect here. If you say cenam habeo, I think you are in possession of a dinner. Perhaps you brought takeaway with you but it's still in the fridge? The English phrase "to have a meal" is misleading here, and I don't think it works in Latin.

  • 4
    Sumere is indeed correct, as we see in Martial 13.31.1: Si sine carne voles ientacula sumere frugi,/Haec tibi Vestino de grege massa venit. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 17:08

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