I've had several requests for discussion of the difference between (AmE) entrée (= BrE/AmE main course) and French entrée (= AmE appetizer and BrE starter). The French term is occasionally seen in Britain (mostly in French restaurants, in my experience), but it is fairly confusing to AmE speakers.

I'm not going to blog on it. No, I'm not.

What is the point of blogging on it when there is a new blog on The Language of Food by Dan Jurafsky, which has already done the deed in brilliant historical detail with pretty pictures of menus?

And I'm still on a diet. So I refuse. Enjoy Dan's post and please don't taunt me in the comments with mention of anything that's more than 150 calories.


  1. Interesting link! I really like the notion of the grammar of a country's food - and that a salad is "ungrammatical" in Chinese cuisine:-)

  2. In OzE it certainly means "starters"

    As in "I'll have two entrees rather than an entree an a main"

  3. It also clarifies for me what was going on at those dinners in Georgette Heyer with a large number of dishes on the table for each course, and the removes.

  4. This makes the joke in the first Addams Family movie (Morticia meets party guests as they arrive and entreats them to take "entrai..ls") a bit odd, though I guess that's just the Addams family through-and-through.

    captcha: "hottato", though you may say hottayoto...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. In Australia an entrée is definitely what you eat before your main meal and is usually more of an appetiser.

    I never realised that it referred to the main meal in other places... I would have probably been wondering why all the appetisers (entrées to me) were so large.

  7. I recently visited the US from Britain and was confused to find separate columns for Starters and Entrees - I don't often see entree written in the UK, but when it's there it means starter...
    If nothing else, it looks like "enter", so should mean something as an entry to the rest of the meal i.e. a starter or appetiser

  8. NZE is with the Ozzies and the French on this. An entree is a starter - what you have before the main meal.

    My mother invariably orders two entrees; one as a starter and the second as a main.

    Depending on the restaurant, you might see appetiser, entree or starter used, all meaning the same thing. Most frequently used, however, is certainly entree.


The book!

View by topic



AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)